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Leah Cairns interview

Date of publishing: 21st March 2007

Leah Cairns interview Leah grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia. She trained to be a dancer but she was forced to change her plans when she broke her back in a car accident at the age of 16. In her final year at school, as the dance team travelled to an international competition, she went to Costa Rica. This was the first stop on a backpacking voyage through 36 countries over eight years. She began her acting career in an acting class at an ashram in India. Her first television appearance was in a March 2002 episode of The Chris Isaak Show. She played the role of "Jenna" on the television series Godiva's, which aired on Bravo! Canada. She is perhaps best known to U.S. audiences for her role as Margaret "Racetrack" Edmonson on the Sci Fi Channel original series Battlestar Galactica. She appeared in the Season One finale and in several episodes throughout Season Two and Three. You are going to see her in the upcoming episodes of Kyle XY and the the new online show "Sanctuary".
(Mini biography from TV.com)

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Gilles Nuytens: I read that you started acting in an ashram in India which is quite unusual, what was your motivation?
Leah Cairns: What was my motivation for acting in the ashram?

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: Yes.
Leah Cairns: The motivation was quite silly really. I showed up at the ashram...by myself, because I travel most of the time by myself. So there's this huge bulletin board at the ashram that shows all of the events that they were hosting that evening, and the only one that I understood was an improv night. All the rest were spiritual kinds of things and I didn't know what any of them were, so I went to the improv night, because I knew what it was. I ended up getting up on the stage that night and fell in love with acting. An acting teacher convinced me to stay and take a course of his ........and that was it. I really got into the whole acting thing really by accident.

Gilles Nuytens: Do you like what you are doing?
Leah Cairns: I do. I really love acting. I find it a very self absorbing profession and I never really saw myself doing something that was this self absorbing. I always saw myself, you know.......
I spent most of my time travelling, working in orphanages building schools or doing things for other people so I'm still quite surprised that I'm in a profession like this but I quite love it.

Gilles Nuytens: Some actors audition for specific roles but finally get another one and you, did you get the role you wanted in Galactica?
Leah Cairns: I auditioned for Six. Thank god I didn't get it because I can't imagine anyone but Tricia playing Six. So yes, I got exactly the role I wanted.

Gilles Nuytens: Okay. With the departure of some major characters in Galactica can we expect to see more of you in the next season?
Leah Cairns: Your guess is as good as mine, I certainly hope so. I have no idea.

Gilles Nuytens: Okay. Okay. Are you happy with your character development so far?
Leah Cairns: Yes I would certainly love to be developed more. I would love to become a viper pilot. But there is also a trend on our show that once secondary... it seems to
me anyways.... that when secondary characters get developed more they also get killed and I would rather stay on the show than get more development!

Gilles Nuytens: Yes many many characters die in that show. If you had the choice to change soming to Racetrak or to improve the character, what would you do?
Leah Cairns: I definitely think the first thing I would do is make her a viper pilot. Definitely! I really want to fly vipers! Then I would love to see ... I'd love to find out why Racetrack is so hard and bitter. My gut feeling is that she is hiding a huge amount of pain and that the crusty exterior is just her way of protecting herself. I would like to explore that a little bit more.

Gilles Nuytens: Okay. Similar question, in which kind of storyline would you like to see Racetrack involved in the future?
Leah Cairns: I have a great answer for that question.

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: Okay. Go ahead tell me!
Leah Cairns: But it would totally spoil the season finale, so I'm going to have to keep my mouth shut on that one because it would totally ruin it and I can't.

Gilles Nuytens: Okay!
Leah Cairns: I'd like to keep my job!

Gilles Nuytens: Okay. I understand. So during an eight year period you visited 36 countries, if I'm right, what have you learned and how has this influenced your life. Can you speak about this period of your life?
Leah Cairns: Sure. It's one of my favorite things to talk about.... that period of my life. It was amazing! It was the most amazing time in my life actually and sometimes I still get little panic attacks when I realize how settled I've become in Canada. I never really thought that I would ever settle down! But one thing I learnt while I was in Asia is how important family is. Asians see family in a different way than we do in North America. Family comes before self in a lot of Asian countries and I've learnt how to really appreciate that. So now that I'm back in Canada where my family lives.... for example... my sister and I made a point of finding a place on the outside of Vancouver where we could be neighbors. We live one apartment building away from each other! Our next step is to buy a plot of land and have our houses side by side. My goal is to be able to go to her house in bare feet! Did that answer your question? I don't know! I learned to value family, and I learned that the world is really an extremely tiny, tiny place and very interconnected. We really need to take care of it and each other if we want to have a happy and fulfilled life.

Gilles Nuytens: And this has influenced your way of acting, your acting career?
Leah Cairns: I definitely think it has influenced my acting career. During 8 years of travel I met every kind of person imaginable. That's really what I did.... interact with people from all over the world, ever single day. So I've never come upon a character, that I've auditioned for or played, that I was like "I don't understand that person" because I've met all kinds. It was a huge research in human nature and the human
condition. I feel like I can play anything.

Gilles Nuytens: Okay. Thank you. I just read that you are going to be in Kyle XY. What can you tell us about your role and involvement in the story line of this show?
Leah Cairns: In Kyle XY, I play a special Ops agent and as far as I can tell so far I'm the bad guy.

Leah Cairns interview
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Gilles Nuytens: You're the bad guy!
Leah Cairns: How exciting!

Gilles Nuytens: Can you tell more?
Leah Cairns: Well, to explain the storyline of Kyle XY is a little bit difficult. For people who've seen the show, season 2 explores Kyle XY's special abilities and my job thus far....... is actually really difficult to explain. I'm a special Ops agent working for a company that needs to destroy Kyle XY, and it's my job to help them do that. I'm also on a new show called Sanctuary. I don't know if you knew that....

Gilles Nuytens: Oh yes, Can you talk about that?
Leah Cairns: I heard through the rumor mill that we're going to be... that we've already been picked up and we're shooting more episodes. I'm excited about it! It's an extremely new style of show being that it's on the internet and it uses mixed media. I play a witch. My character is based upon the witches of MacBeth. Actually, the witches of MacBeth are based upon my character because my character predates Shakespeare. I get to play with two other fabulous Canadian actresses and we had a blast shooting the very first episode. Lots of stunts and fun stuff! !nd again.... I get to be a real bad ass on that show too! I love it!

Gilles Nuytens: Is that a recurring role?
Leah Cairns: It IS a recurring role...but as far as I know.... I think they're going to wrap up our story line in the next episode. We were a large part of the pilot and we'll be in the next episode for sure. There were rumors going around that they wanted to keep us around..... but no one has talked to me about that yet. I think it would be great if they did!

Gilles Nuytens: Do you share some common points with your character Racetrack?
Leah Cairns: I would have to say no, I don't think so. I'm the kind of person that wears my heart on my sleeve. I have a really hard time hiding my feelings. I'm a bit like a cheerleader. I love to rally people together and raise them up not knock them down! I think Racetrack is a bitter angry scared person right now that I don't find much similarity between myself and her..... which is what makes her so much fun to play! And I don't think I could ever... in a million years... learn how to fly a raptor. There's so many button and it looks so difficult! And I'm sure you'd have to use a lot of math skills which I have very little of. I can barely drive my own car!

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: Some actors are fan of the show they play on and you, are you a fan of Battlestar Galactica?
Leah Cairns: Haha! (laughs)

Gilles Nuytens: That is a good question?
Leah Cairns: I'm the hugest Battlestar Galactica fan. It's crazy! Yes, my favorite thing to do Sunday night is to watch Battlestar Galactica with my husband. Absolutely nothing stops me from watching! I won't tape it. I refuse to watch it after everybody else has watched it. I have to watch it at the same time. And ...... I think most actors would love to have their character developed more but I would say to leave Racetrack exactly how she is .... because I have this fear that if I get developed more, then they might kill her, and if they kill her then I don't get the scripts delivered to my door and get to find out what's going on before everybody else does.... and that would be horrible! I'd be driving Nicki Clyne or Grace Park up the wall calling them all the time "now what's going on? now what's going on?" (laughs). So yes, I'm a huge fan of the show.

Gilles Nuytens: That's great. Are you also a fan of sci fi in general?
Leah Cairns: Sci fi in general. I would have to say I wasn't before I got Battlestar Galactica. I love Star Wars. I love Star Trek The Next Generation but it wasn't my favorite genre but now I'm on 3 science-fiction shows and the more I'm around it the more addicted I become. So I'm definitely becoming a scifi nut.

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: And were you aware of the old Galactica show?
Leah Cairns: I was aware of the old Galactica show. When I was in university I lived with a friend who had Star Wars figurines and Battlestar Galactica collectible figurines all over his room. But I don't recall ever having seen the show when I was a kid. I didn't watch a lot of television when I was little. I've only ever seen one episode actually. I would love it if I could get a box set and watch the old ones. I love watching things where I know people in them.... and knowing Richard
Hatch.... I would love to see him as Apollo back in the day. I think that would just be hilarious! I'd love it! And people keep asking me about this dog! I don't know anything about this dog! Was there a robot dog?

Gilles Nuytens: Yeah there was a robot dog in the old show, yes.
Leah Cairns: I don't know why we don't have is any robot dogs. I'd love to have a little robot dog myself but I'd like to check out this robot dog.

Gilles Nuytens: It was quite funny!
Leah Cairns: Was he funny? Yeah I got a check it out.

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: If you had the choice to play in any TV show or movie in which would you like to play?
Leah Cairns: I would absolutely love to join the cast of the Christopher Guest movies. "Best in Show", "For Your Consideration", "Mighty Wind"..... that group of actors. Do you know what I'm talking about? There is this group of actors... and they... as far as I know, all of their lines are improved. They get the theme of the movie, and they are told what the scenes are about, and then they just wing it! They are my absolute favorite movies! I would love to act with those guys! It is my dream!

Gilles Nuytens: Okay. Racetrack was supposed to be a "one shot" character, what in your performance made the producers to keep you on as a recurring character?
Leah Cairns: Was it something in my performance. I assumed it was because all the other pilots were dead they had much choice. I have no idea. I've never asked.

Gilles Nuytens: It's because I read that Ronald D. Moore was impressed by your performance and that he decided to keep you?
Leah Cairns: People keep telling me that. He's never said that to me personally so I don't know.

Gilles Nuytens: I read that somewhere ...
Leah Cairns: I'm glad that they did.

Gilles Nuytens: Now you should have to ask him!
Leah Cairns: I should ask him?

Gilles Nuytens: Yeah, you should ask him!
Leah Cairns: Okay. Yeah. I should actually then I'll have a better answer. I'll ask him next time I see him.

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: What was the best gig or funny experience during the shooting of Galactica??
Leah Cairns: You know that's a hard one. There's so many funny moments shooting that show. Any time we have Mary, Eddie, Hogan, Callis together! Any time you get those four people in one scene it's always hilarity! Specifically ... I think I talked about one of them before. In this season ... okay, this is a bit of a long story. I'll try to keep it short. One of the funniest things shooting a specific scene happened when we were shooting a scene where Pegasus meets Galactica. A scene with Michelle Forbes in it when Forbes and Adama see each other in the hanger deck. Eddie wandered off set in the middle of shooting. He thought we were on a little break, and he wandered off, and Michael Rymer, the director didn't notice and called action! It was a close up on Michelle Forbes and Rymer had no idea that Eddie wasn't there. And Michelle Forbes being the professional that she is.... when the camera is rolling you do your business..... so she started the scene! But there was no one to respond to her! So James Callis nonchalantly comes over and steps into Eddie's place and puts on the best Adama voice you'd ever heard! Better than Eddie can do! (laughs) And they did the entire scene with Michelle and James Callis as Adama, and Michelle almost pulled it off, except Mary got the giggles and started laughing and then all the background started laughing and Michael Rymer, who STILL doesn't know that Eddie left, comes out and starts yelling at everybody because we were all laughing during the take! And then he looks around and says ....where the hell is Eddie and realizes that the whole scene was bogus!

Gilles Nuytens: It seems funny yeah. What was the reaction of Michelle Forbes?
Leah Cairns: She was so great! There was this tiny little hint.... you could see in her eyes just a tiny bit that... I think she thought she'd just go along with it until Michael Rymer actually figured it out. But Callis just steps in and starts talking like Adama.... so she just went with it! She was trying so hard to keep it together! Sometimes in situations like that some really great moments can come about and sometimes magic can happen on camera ...... but Mary just couldn't keep it together and started laughing and Michelle ... what can she do? She killed herself laughing! The only person who didn't laugh was Callis, he was dead pan through the entire thing. He was so set on playing Adama, he was just awesome!

Gilles Nuytens: I would have liked today see that!
Leah Cairns: Yeah it was pretty hysterical.

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: Next question. How aware are you of the fan base. Do you sometimes read feedbacks on internet?
Leah Cairns: Do I ego surf? Yes! I most certainly do ego surf. I always have to go on (the internet) and see what fans think of every episode as soon as it airs. How all the episodes get rated.... it's always fascinating to me to see what people think. And my mom loves to go on the internet and find out what people are saying about Racetrack or about me. She always calls me to let me know! It's hard for me because... if some things are negative I don't like that. I can get pretty upset. I really shouldn't.... but I do.

Gilles Nuytens: Do you sometimes respond to fans?
Leah Cairns: Have I responded to fans? How? On the internet?

Gilles Nuytens: Yes
Leah Cairns: No, no, no, I've never done that before

Gilles Nuytens: Would you like to do that?
Leah Cairns: Answer fans questions on line?

Gilles Nuytens: Yes
Leah Cairns: Yeah sure! I get quite a bit of fan mail and I write personal notes to everyone. I like interacting with fans. I love getting stopped on the street and for sure I'd love to answer questions online. My spelling is atrocious.... but I could do it!

Gilles Nuytens: I'm just asking that because Grace Park is answering questions on my forum and she seems to like it.
Leah Cairns: I imagine any time you're a big fan of your own show, why wouldn't you want to talk about it.

Gilles Nuytens: How would you describe your co-stars from Galactica in one or two words? Katee Sackhoff?
Leah Cairns: Hyper!

Gilles Nuytens: Jamie Bamber?
Leah Cairns: Hot.

Gilles Nuytens: Edward James Olmos?
Leah Cairns: Godfather.

Gilles Nuytens: Mary McDonnell?
Leah Cairns: Talent.

Gilles Nuytens: James Callis?
Leah Cairns: I want to be him when I grow up.

Gilles Nuytens: Grace Park?
Leah Cairns: Delightful.

Gilles Nuytens: Tricia Helfer?
Leah Cairns: Goddess.

Gilles Nuytens: Aaron Douglas?
Leah Cairns: Aaron Douglas is misunderstood.

Gilles Nuytens: Tahmoh Penikett?
Leah Cairns: The political genius. The guy I go to find out what's happening in Iraq. or who was elected head of state somewhere. He's extremely current!

Gilles Nuytens: Michael Hogan?
Leah Cairns: My favorite.

Gilles Nuytens: Ronald D. Moore?
Leah Cairns: Genius.

Gilles Nuytens: Nicki Clyne?
Leah Cairns: She's my best friend on the show.

Gilles Nuytens: Did I miss someone?
Leah Cairns: I don't know. Who else have we got. That covers us all?

Leah Cairns interviewGilles Nuytens: What do you find the most challenging about being an actress?
Leah Cairns: For me the most challenging thing is the schedule. Actually you know what the most challenging thing about being an actress is when your not working. Because when you're not working, you're auditioning and you don't know how many auditions you're going to have in any one given day. You don't know how much time it's going to take you to prepare any difficult day and basically if you're in auditioning mode your working 24/7. I can never make plans with people. I can't go on holiday. I can't have any sort of schedule and since I've returned to Canada I've become a very scheduled individual and it drives me nuts.

Gilles Nuytens: You are very attractive woman, do you sometimes do some modeling?
Leah Cairns: Yeah. I've done a little bit of modelling. Nothing like Grace or, of course, not like Tricia! The model in my family is actually my little sister. She modelled for a long time. She's quite fantastic at it. I just do little things here and there. I'm short!

Gilles Nuytens: Do you sometimes do some theater?
Leah Cairns: No. I have never done a theatre show in my life. 7th grade was the last time I was on a stage!

Gilles Nuytens: Would you like to do some?
Leah Cairns: I would love to! I actually JUST auditioned for a play in Vancouver but then I got Kyle XY and had scheduling conflicts. So for the time being I've put film and television ahead of theatre. It's just really hard to find the time to do theatre..... but I will. I don't think you're a real actor unless you have!

Gilles Nuytens: I think I've asked all my questions, so a big thank you for your time and for answering my questions
Leah Cairns: Thank you, no problem, it was a pleasure!

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© Interview by Gilles Nuytens for The Scifi World
Transcript by Zan & Gilles Nuytens


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