Date of publishing: 30th
When he made his acting debut as the Wicked Witch
of the West in a children's production of The Wizard
of Oz directed by his mom, Bamber couldn't have imagined
the success he would have playing another iconic role,
Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama, in the smash
remake of Battlestar Galactica. Sexy, intelligent
and multilingual, he studied drama at the London Academy
of Music and Dramatic Art after graduating from Cambridge
University. Although he had a recurring role in a
series of Horatio Hornblower TV-movies and a small
part in the World War II miniseries Band of Brothers,
Bamber was a relative unknown when he shot to cult-star
status as a conflicted military man serving under
his father's command on the Sci Fi Channel's signature
This interview has been conducted by Renee Burl during
Burl: Starting with
Battlestar, what do you think has changed about Lee
since the beginning of the series?
Jamie Bamber: Everything has changed.
The world has changed. The world ceases to exist.
He has been thrust back into the bosom of his father
and he’s grown up. Actually, it’s a growing
up story about him. It’s about putting his family
background behind him and looking to the future and
looking to what difference he can make to this new,
sort of fragmented, decimated society. It’s
a coming of age story for Lee, really. It’s
about finding out who he is and what his purpose in
life is, over and above the expectations of the military
and his dad.
Renee Burl: In
the last three episodes of season three, we saw Lee
become his own man. We saw the subtle changes that
had been worked up to, that had been laid out through
the rest of the seasons, kind of come to fruitarian.
Can you elaborate a little bit on some of the more
specific ones that you felt were really going to take
Lee to his next stage?
Jamie Bamber: It’s a good question.
It’s something that has actually happened constantly,
that Lee becomes his own man. I was using that phrase
when Lee first sided with the President in the mini-series
and he wasn’t toeing the political line. I said
it when it turned his gun on Col. Tigh and refused
to execute a military coup against the President.
I said it when he became a commander in his own right
and he accepts the military thing and he is at one
with that whole thing and he’s become his dad
and their good. And last year with the whole trial
thing, you know that’s another example. It’s
just the latest example. It’s just a process
and it’s a recurring thing with his character
that he questions and he asks the difficult questions.
He is not a yes-man. He examines things. He’s
intelligent. He’s insightful and sometimes he
is a bit pigheaded and a bit priggish and maybe a
bit boyscoutish and those are the elements that I
fight. I try to make him as dangerous and sort of
quixotic as I can within the framework of playing
the reliable hero. But that’s the challenge
of the role. I fight the writers quite a lot when
they make him sort of fairly moralistic and boy scoutish.
It’s a recurring battle that I have with them.
They always want to put him back in that box. I’m
always reminding them that actually he is the most
free thinking person in the fleet and he isn’t
the one relying on a sort of jingoistic mantra of
right and wrong. He questions what right and wrong
are all the time. He does believe in them, but they
are moving truths within there. So you are right to
point that out.
Burl: You have done
work in both American and British television. What
is the biggest difference between BBC and American
Jamie Bamber: You know, money is
the most obvious thing. Not only what they pay actors,
but the market is huge in the USA and because the
market has always been huge, there has been a lot
of quality out there and a lot of exporting. So we’ve
all grown up, where ever you’ve lived in the
world, we’ve grown up with American TV, at least
the best of it. The same is true of British TV. British
TV has been hugely exported for the tiny population
that we have, but Americans tend to remake shows in
their own image. The Office is a good example, Coupling
got remade, and they cast American actors, and they
Americanize it and they make it accessible to Americans.
We don’t do that in Britain. If an American
show is made, we watch the American show, because,
well, we like to say we are intelligent enough to
see through the cultural specifics to get through
to the show and America seems to want to cast everything
in its own image. I think that’s a difference.
And with the money there’s a difference in the
way they perceive success. An American show is designed
to run for many, many years and to make 20 episodes
a year, at least. A British show is a success if we
make six episodes and the next season we have six,
like Extras, and everyone else is wondering when they
are going to make more. That’s just not the
model we work on because we just don’t have
that huge market. The talent isn’t willing to
stay doing something for a huge amount of time, writers,
actors, and they don’t have the luxury of teams
of writers. It is normally an individual who writes
every single episode in the UK. We just don’t
have the scale and that is the difference, fundamentally.
Renee Burl: How
many conventions a year do you do?
Jamie Bamber: This year I’m
doing a load because I just moved and just bought
a house and the show is ending and I’m scared.
I’m financially trying to look after my wife
and kids. I will probably do five or something this
year, which is a lot for me. Conventions, I love them
because I love meeting the people. There are elements
about it that I don’t like. I don’t like
that everyone knows we are here because someone pays
us to come and we are not really doing our jobs. This
isn’t what I do. I’m not a convention
man. I’m not a personality, I’m an actor
and I’d much rather be acting right now that
doing this, I have to be honest. But, it’s been
a revelation to me, just the joy of meeting the people
and having conversations about their perceptions about
what you are doing and just feeling the feedback.
It’s something that TV doesn’t give you.
In theater with a live audience you get that. Even
with movie theaters you get the idea that people are
actually going to see your product. TV, you are in
their living rooms and you don’t really know
what the relationship is. You don’t know you’re
there. So conventions are an amazing thing. I’m
amazed that it’s just the genre shows that have
conventions, but I’m noticing the genres getting
wider, wider, and wider. Like the definition of what
comes in the bracket of a convention material is pretty
broad now. It’s not just Sci-Fi. It’s
more or less everything. So I’ve been really
privileged to discover it. I don’t think I would
have discovered it otherwise and I do enjoy them.
I do have some trepidation about them because I have
sort of a moral anxiety about the whole transaction
side of it. But I enjoy the people very much. Walking
around here and seeing the amazing costumes and the
amount of fun people are having and the conversations
that are going on, it’s joyful.
your craziest fan experience?
Jamie Bamber: Well today, as I think
you know, I signed a cake with icing. I was under
the impression that it was a wedding cake and there
is a picture of half-naked me on the wedding cake.
I was relieved to find out that it was just for bachelorette
party because I pity the bloke who is marrying this
lovely girl who has a picture of someone else on their
wedding cake. That was definitely the weirdest thing,
that I had to sign in icing on a cake. It’s
hard work, too. It was a struggle.
Renee Burl: What
will you miss most at the end of Battlestar Galactica?
Jamie Bamber: The people. I will
miss Eddie and Mary and James and Katie and Grace
and Tricia and Tahmoh and Aaron and Michael Rymer
and Ron and David. The people. The crew in particular
because I won’t necessarily see them again and
I know I will see my friends again. A lot of us live
in L.A. so we will connect. Undeniably the people.
I don’t think I’ll miss the character,
really. I will have nostalgia for Vancouver. I’ll
have nostalgia for the times that we had, but it’s
Renee Burl: What
will you miss the least?
Jamie Bamber: The flight suit. The
sweaty, hot, flight suit. I will miss the least, as
well, the worry about the character. I do feel that
I have had to fight for this character quite a lot
and a lot of the times it’s tough. The writers
are great. They are really great, great writers and
they are really open but there are times when I get
depressed by the same notes being played. I’m
glad it is ending when it is ending because I have
run out of ideas for how to make Lee what he needs
to be and I sense that they have, too. I think it’s
good that we are ending when we are.
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