Date of publishing: 1st
Mark A. Sheppard is a British actor and musician,
born in London of an Irish-German background. His
television work includes the "Fire" episode
of The X-Files, a year on the Jerry Bruckheimer action
series Soldier of Fortune, guest-star and recurring
roles on CSI, The Practice, Firefly, Special Unit
2, JAG, Star Trek: Voyager, The Chronicle, Monk, Las
Vegas and CSI: NY, among others. He has most recently
been seen in season five of the Fox show 24 and as
Patricia Arquette's serial-killer nemesis on Medium.
He appears as a guest star playing Romo Lampkin during
the last three episodes of season three of the re-imagined
Gilles Nuytens: So
you’re a big fan of the show [Battlestar Galactica]?
Mark Sheppard: I am a huge fan. My friend Naren Shankar,
who is an executive producer of CSI [CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation], is a very close friend. He went to
school with Ron. They went to University together.
And also, they went to University with René
Echevarria, who is now an Executive Producer for “Medium”,
which I am also on. They all worked together on Star
Trek, they came from Star Trek. Naren told me that
I should meet Ron, and that Ron and I would get on
well. We all share an interest in computers and all
sorts of other stuff. We hang out for other reasons
(laughs) then just the show. But I was a big fan of
the show. Ron actually tried to get me onto the show
a year before.
Nuytens: Yeah, as
a Cylon I think.
Mark Sheppard: Well, maybe. I’m
not sure. It evolved into something else I’m
sure. The original idea was to bring me on as a character,
as a Cylon. It was something I really wanted to do.
But I was doing Medium and I couldn’t do it,
there was no way for me to do the show and I was heartbroken
that I couldn’t do it. And I thought that’s
it, I figured well you know I had my shot and I won’t
get to do it. I never really discussed it until I
was at Ron’s house and David Eick was there
and David said to me « You still want to
be a Cylon? » « Yeah of course!
» « But only a Cylon? »
and I said « I’ll do anything on the
show, it’s not an issue » And he
says we may have a trial at the end of this season
and that they were thinking of something for me. And
was like « David, I will do anything on
the show! » A few months later, I was at
Ron’s house, and I was talking to him, I had
just finished another Medium. (laughs) And I was talking
to him and I was fixing one of his computers and I
said oh by the way I have something for you and he
goes « oh and I have something for you,
three episodes of Battlestar! »
Gilles Nuytens: There
is still a chance for you to be the final Cylon, why
Mark Sheppard: Absolutely ! Ron had
said that he gave Michael Angeli Carte Blanche to
make this character as odd and as wide as he wanted
to make it. Michael Angeli is a very, very, very clever
writer. It’s wonderful dialog, it’s a
wonderfully convoluted, complicated character. You
know the glasses idea was his idea, he wears dark
glasses a lot, Michael Angeli, and the glasses were
very important to him. And he put the cat in and all
these strange elements and the kleptomania. and there
are all these other questions, is he a cylon? a manipulator?
is he this, is he that. All of these things are kind
of irrelevant. I played him as the last sane man in
the universe. If you think of the episode "The
Son Also Rises", my first episode, it’s
the episode after Maelstrom. Maelstrom is a disaster
an absolute disaster! The end of Maelstrom leaves
you with this huge hole, this gap and I walk in to
a group of people in mourning. They are in mourning
for Starbuck. I think I’m the only person paying
attention. I think none of them are paying attention
because of the events of New Caprica and everything
that has happened since New Caprica. I mean basically
they just want to tear Baltar to pieces, they kind
of admit that they will move the trial forward because
people need it, they need the trial, they need something.
And my postion is that that’s no way to behave.
I’m absolutely certain that Baltar is not guilty
of what he was charged with, to this day I believe
that. He deserved to be aquitted, he did not commit
the act of treason for which he was charged. There
is a lovely line in "Taking a Break" where
he says that for it to be treason he has to have had
knowledge of it, prior thought, it has to be deliberate
and it’s perfectly articulated. It has to be
deliberate. You cannot create an act of treason by
accident, it’s not treason. But his fatal flaw
is his begining. But I love that Romo is, I don’t
know I think he’s smarter then everybody else.
(laughs) I played him like he’s smarter then
every body else. Then there is this wonderful thing
that the writers created, which is that he is the
protege of Joseph Adama. But his age falls between
William Adama and Lee Adama. To me it’s almost
as though Joseph Adama had a second family. You know
that with fathers that have a second family there’s
always a younger, there’s a middle kid. So the
Grandson and the father, there is somebody in between
them and they are inbetween in age as well as status.
And I thought it was a fantastic thing to play. Most
of my antagonism was actually played towards the Admiral
not towards Lee. The entire court room scene, looking
at the shots like whenever they bring Tigh to the
stand. To bring Tigh to the stand to be a witness,
to give evidence is the most ridiculous thing I have
ever seen. He has no evidence, not any at all - it’s
all anecdotal. So we have a situation by which I’m
not performing to the audience I’m performing
to William Adama, going to Tigh « You killed
your wife and Baltar’s responsible, thank you
very much now go away » but directed to
William Adama. « This is your idea of justice,
this is what you are doing with justice ».
I believe that the system is corrupt, but it’s
not unsalvagable. I love the character, Col. Tigh’s
character, Michael Hogan just gives the most amazing
performance as his character. If I could play anybody
that is who I’d want to play, as Tigh. Do you
get to see the bonus scenes?
Nuytens: No I haven’t
seen them yet.
Mark Sheppard: There is a bonus scene
avaible on SciFi.com of for episode 18 Crossroads
Part 1, the final part of the trial. The scene is
me in my pajamas and Lee at the other end of the courtroom,
just us. This should have been at the begining of
18, but there was no room for it, but the begining
of Crossroads should have been Lee saying to me «
you know he’s guilty right? »
To which Romo’s answer is well he’s guilty
of something, everybody is guilty of something, but
is he guilty of what they are charging him, no. There
is this speech about that this is not really a trial
about the law, it’s a trial about a family,
it’s about the « royal » family,
which is your family, Lee. Is he guilty of treason?
No, but is he guilty of breaking with the royal family?
Yes. And for that he may just hang. That is the point!
That idea breaking with the Adamas, breaking with
the aristocracy, this new aristocracy, this emerging
aristocracy that is created, is what I think is so
immoral. Politically I find the whole thing facinating.
(laughs) And is Romo a cylon ? does it matter? Does
it matter if Romo is a cylon or not?
Gilles Nuytens: Does
it matter, at this point no, I don’t think so.
Mark Sheppard: Absolutely not! That
is what I think is so brilliant. What a great gift.
I’m there to do one thing and one thing only,
I think I’m there to restore justice. A true
sense of justice, not this bull that has been going
on since New Caprica. Which I think is brilliant.
For Lee to give the speech at the end is the most
important part. Because I could give that speech and
everybody would say it’s brilliant but nobody
would listen because I’m an outsider.
Gilles Nuytens: I
think they wanted to punish someone.
Mark Sheppard: Yes, he’s the
easy one to punish. He’s like Daffy Duck as
opposed to Bugs Bunny, he represents what we really
are, as pathetic, and sad and useless as we really
are (laughs) under most conditions. Most human beings
are not heroes, most human beings do not behave heroically,
certainly not all the time. What an incredible aspiration.
Gilles Nuytens: What
kind of effect did your father being an actor have
on you, what were your motivations to follow in his
Mark Sheppard: I hated the idea of
following in his footsteps. I was a musician, primarily
I was always musician. That’s how I know Brussels.
I played in a lot of bands, I played in France and
the first band to play in Algeria, I think. But concerning
my Dad being an actor, I was like he’s the actor
and I’m the muscian and that was when I was
a kid, but then years later I discovered it was pretty
much the same thing to me. I think we are very different,
but we have a lot of similarities. He’s a fabulous
character actor, truly fabulous character actor. What
is funny about him is he’s getting better as
he’s getting older. He’s just done some
amazing work! He just finished in the film "The
Prestige" and "Transformers" with Michael
Bay. He’s doing some extraordinary stuff. He’s
been really really enjoying this later part of his
career. And that’s fun to watch and both of
us can get competitive which makes it fun.
Nuytens: What is
your motivation to being an actor?
Mark Sheppard: No motivation at all.
(laughs) Somebody asked me to do it, asked me to see
if I could be in a play, and I was reluctant but I
did it and I discovered it was something I love, it’s
fun. But it’s story telling. It’s story
telling being music, or art, or whether I write, whether
I direct, or whether I act. I’ve done all of
these things. It’s exactly the same to me. it
makes no difference to me, it’s just a voice
to something. It’s creation in its own manner.
I don’t know if I will end up being an actor.
I know that in this period of time it’s what
I do most of and it’s what I love to do. But
it’s the telling of stories and it doesn’t
matter to me if it’s done in music or any form
of art. I get as much enjoyment out of what I do most
of and it’s what I love to do. Motivation to
be an actor, I don’t know… it’s
the worst job you could pick in the world. It’s
based on rejection and at it’s lowest level
it’s facile and uninteresting and unimportant.
At its highest level it’s the most extraordinary
thing to participate in. And yet how often do we get
to play in it at its highest level. I think and I
have to be honest, without blowing my own horn, that
Battlestar is when it’s at its highest level.
I think it is head and shoulders above many, many,
many things made on television.
Gilles Nuytens: Have
you acted with your father?
Mark Sheppard: Yeah, I have acted
with my father and it was great really interesting
and I have directed him in a film too. He’s
a great actor, he’s a really really good actor
to work with because we have a kind of shorthand and
we teach together too sometimes which is very interesting.
We have a lot of agreements about how things can be.
And he has so much experience which is fantastic.
We are very different actors but we come from the
same place, which is very interesting to me. Have
you seen his work, do you know his work?
Gilles Nuytens: I
know he was in Babylon 5 ...
Mark Sheppard: Yes he was the Soul
Hunter. You watch the film "Wild at Heart",
with Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern - a David Lynch film,
he did a fantastic job in that. He has done so much
work he has played so many characters that are so
Gilles Nuytens: I
will have to take a look at that.
Mark Sheppard: When he started out
he played bad guys and stuff. He has taught me a certain
sensibility about acting, as far as we are of the
same belief that there is no such thing as a bad guy.
They are people of a differing opinion. (laughs) And
are willing to do different things to get what it
is that they want. But you should never play the guy
as a bad guy.
Nuytens: Your character
Romo Lampkin is very popular among the internet community,
what do you attribute to this success?
Mark Sheppard: I’ve noticed!
I think it’s an absolutley fantastic character.
I don’t know what makes it so popular but it’s
a lovely thing to play, I mean I have enjoyed it so
much. Maybe it’s that he spans across everybodys
stories. He’s like a bridge across everybody
elses stories. That's why. I played major scenes with
just about every single person on the ship. I thought
it was facinating. I don’t know, I’d like
to think I brought something interesting into it.
(laughs) But it’s fabulous writing and just
a fabulous character to play. I’m very happy
that it’s so popular.
Gilles Nuytens: In
only three appearences you are very popular, not the
most popular character but quite popular for only
Mark Sheppard: I appreciate that,
everybody has been very kind about it, it’s
a lovely thing. I had two amazing directors, to help
create this character and Ron and David, Angeli, Michael
Taylor and Mark Verheiden all these people writing
to make this character and keep this character interesting.
Gilles Nuytens: What
aspects of your personality did you put into Romo?
Mark Sheppard: Aspects of my personality?
I don’t know. (laughs) Maybe my sense of justice.
I would think my passion for justice would be the
primary thing I would draw upon. Because everything
else belongs to him. I mean it’s a different
set of circumstances than mine. It’s not my
life. He doesn’t behave the way I behave. But
there is something that is similar to me which is
his passion, his passion for justice. It’s very
funny that Lee looks at justice as things that are
legal and things that are illegal and behavior that
is legal and behavior that is illegal. And Romo looks
at justice as a means to achieve the correct result.
(laughs) It’s a completely different perspective.
Everything is up for grabs everything is allowable
if you’re doing the right thing. If your result
is the correct result, then the method is justified.
Now that the three episodes arc is over, have you
been approached to play in season 4?
Mark Sheppard: I can’t answer that question.
Gilles Nuytens: Because
you don’t know or because you can’t say?
Mark Sheppard: Because I can’t
answer that question! (laughs). I have no comment
on that. Let me put it this way, if I never appeared
again on Battlestar Galactica it has been an incredible
journey and if I appear again I would be extraordinarily
happy. I cannot answer that! Imagine that if I know
that I am, I would hate to tell and ruin the surprise,
and imagine if nobody had said anything to me I would
hate to tell and ruin the surprise too.
Gilles Nuytens: So
with it being such a loner and a little dark and maniputaltive
sort of guy, what do you think has made Romo that
Mark Sheppard: Dark and manipulative?
I don’t think he’s dark and manipulative.
I don’t think he’s dark at all! I think
he’s smart. And I don’t think of him as
manipulative, like I said he believes absolutely in
justice. What we see of him is that he believes in
Baltars right to a fair trial.
Nuytens: Well, what
do you think that made him what he is actually?
Mark Sheppard: Well what is he? (laughs)
He says what it is in the scene in The Son Also Rises,
where he talks about his teacher Joseph Adama, his
teacher. He says I wanted to know what he knew so
I did what he did. He believes. That is the point.
That is the entire point, that he believes, it is
the most important part of his life, is what he believes
in. I think he’s very much a man of honor. But
people always take a moralistic view of the truth
and right and wrong and I think he has a very different
concept of right and wrong.
Gilles Nuytens: And
what was your biggest challenge playing him?
Mark Sheppard: Romo? Maybe the dialogue,
to find the man that says all those things. A lot
of dialogue, to find the man that is able to say all
Gilles Nuytens: You
had quite a lot of lines to say.
Mark Sheppard: Not just the lines,
but like, what does he mean, why does he say the things
that he says? What was funny is when I watched those
episodes with some of the people from the show and
I look at what he is doing and it makes sense. What
he does makes sense at the end. When you see what
happens you go « Oh that is why he’s
doing what’s he’s doing ».
So it has to make sense to me from the begining. And
the challenge was to make a man with so many words
that you don’t know whether he’s telling
the truth or he’s lying, you have to find what
the truth was.
Gilles Nuytens: Did
you have some input on the character?
Mark Sheppard: In what manner? We
always have input on the character, but did I write
the character, no, that was Michael Angeli. Created
by Ron, Micheal and David, Romo is their creation.
Gilles Nuytens: But
I mean some actors give some ideas to the director
to make modifcations?
Mark Sheppard: I agree there is always a difference
from what is on paper and what is on screen, always.
There is always a difference as to what is mine and
what is theirs, but it doesn’t really matter.
The end result is what matters, right ?
Gilles Nuytens: Yes
what is on screen is what is best.
Mark Sheppard: We could have a convoluted
conversation about it you know, but for example the
cane being placed against the wall at the end was
not scripted. When I put the cane down, that scene
was not scripted, but that cane is a result of everything
that was written before. Does that make sense? It
becomes collaborative, not competitive.
Nuytens: Yes, that’s
Mark Sheppard: Yes, Absolutely, then
it becomes logical and we have to kind of do this
and suggestions are very interesting. There are many
different levels of suggestion as long as you always
remember that it has to come from the root, which
is the story. It’s the most essential part,
which is why a lot of people, with the greatest respect,
a lot of people forget that to change something just
to change something is uninteresting, but to change
something because it evolves is a fantastic type of
thing. I mean it is an amazing cast of people and
they are all incredibly imaginative. And I had the
benefit on my first episode of having Michael Angeli
and Bob Young, (of course, being the director) being
on set the entire time. Every thing I did, the writer
is there so I had the ability to frankly exchange
ideas and and measure it against what is best for
the show and the role and everything else. There were
constent tweaks being made and processes and changes
and stuff which made it facinating for me. But it
was a lovely luxury to have Michael actually be there
and some of the time Ron was there too. And when the
cane scene was up Ron was there and I was like I want
to put the cane down and he was like great idea, great
idea, but it comes as a result from what is written.
You can never take away from the writer what is the
writers. The inspiration, you know?
Gilles Nuytens: You
mentioned an interview that Galatica was probably
the smartest show ever produced, What for you is the
smartest part of the show?
Mark Sheppard: What is the smartest
part of the show? The way that these people live under
these circumstances. I think it’s amazing. It’s
my favorite show since "The West Wing".
I used to watch "The West Wing", it’s
an incredibly smart show, very interesting to watch.
And the characters and circumstances were incredible.
Then I started watching Battlestar Galactica and the
characters, the life, the lives that are going on
under these extraordinary circumstances. I think it
has very little to do with space. (laughs) Which is
facinating. I think that a lot of people are put off
by the idea that it’s Battlestar Galactica,
you know they’re many other shows around which
are genre shows that you can tell by their names probably
what the content is. Take Star Trek 2010 you would
have an idea where that might be, but I don’t
think that you can necessarily discover what Battlestar
Galactica is just by it’s name. So Yes, very
Gilles Nuytens: Did
you like the old show?
Mark Sheppard: The old show? No,
it wasn’t my era, I saw it, I wasn’t a
big fan, I just didn’t get into it, it wasn’t
Gilles Nuytens: What
was the funniest experience during the shooting of
Mark Sheppard: It was just a wonderful time. It was
an amazing learning experience for me. It’s
a very generous group of people, and there was a lot
of fun on the set. There was a lot of fun to be had
and many very generous people from the top to the
bottom. But the funniest thing I think was the cat.
(laughs) Trying to make him comfortable was very funny.
Nuytens: I suppose
there are a lot of small stories about it?
Mark Sheppard: About the cat ? Well
everybody loves the cats and nobody is mean to the
cat but we want him to jump on the table. So there
is a handler there and he has trained the cat to do
it, Jerry the cat. So Jerry jumps up and down and
after a while he doesn’t want to do it any more
. (laughs) So it’s like you know it’s
pushing the cat up to the table. But Jerry and I became
friends. There is this lovely scene that they cut
out. At the end of the scene when Lee says if anything
moves don’t touch it, if anything is in the
wrong place, it’s when he is worried about me
finding a bomb. And my line is if they want to kill
me they’ll find a way, now how do I get to see
the Cylon woman. And I looked down and Jerry the cat
is sitting there and what is funny is I looked at
him and there is a line says Please go boom. And what
happend is the cat looked up at me when I spoke to
him, then as I looked away, he looked away. It was
ver funny. (laughs) Cat’s do what they wanna
Gilles Nuytens: A
lot of people still think about science fiction as
being "child-ish" stuff. What do you think
we could do to prove them it's not and to push them
to give it a chance?
Mark Sheppard: Change the names of all the TV shows.
(laughs) First impressions. Give them better budgets,
but most of them give them better costumes. Battlestar
has got fantastic costumes. Science Fiction is just
such a label.
Gilles Nuytens: What’s
your point of view of Science Fiction today? you have
worked on a lot of Scifi, like Firefly, The X-Files,
Mark Sheppard: Today, it’s
very interesting. I have been very lucky, which means
I get play things or people or people in circumstances
that are not necessarily realistic but extensions
of reality. I love the imagnation, I think there are
some fantastic films and TV made purely from imagination,
which is the way it should be. If I look back, Blade
Runner, Aliens are pretty much my favorite films of
all time, I like many films. But those films really
tell me something because they create a world that
is possible and probable. And I think some of the
TV series do the same and thery’re fantastic.
Gilles Nuytens: You
have been cast for The Bionic Woman. Can you speak
about the show and the character you are going to
play on it?
Mark Sheppard: Yes! ... I can’t
say what I’m doing or talk about the show. I
can probably talk about it in a months time. And I
can’t say what I’m doing but yet again
it was a lovely role to play.
Gilles Nuytens: Can
you give even the name of your character?
Mark Sheppard: No it’s not out yet so I can’t
do that, I can’t do anything.
Nuytens: So you
can’t say if it is a recurring character or
a one shot episode?
Mark Sheppard: Well no that would
be saying (laughs). I can’t give any information
at all as on Bionic Woman until I have approval from
David Eick as to what I can say. We’ll know
in about a month as to what I have to say about it.
Gilles Nuytens: The
Bionic Woman is another remake of an old show. Do
you like the idea to remake old shows or movies in
Mark Sheppard: I don’t know
that they are remakes. I don’t think the present
Bionic Woman bares much resemblence to the other Bionic
Woman. I don’t think Battlestar Galactica bares
much resemblence to the old Battlestar Galatica. Do
you think so, do you think they are the same?
Gilles Nuytens: The
main subject is the same, but it is certainly another
show. The names are the same, the main plot of the
stories is almost the same but no, it is completely
Mark Sheppard: I think so I think you’re right.
Gilles Nuytens: The
old show was more like Star Wars.
Mark Sheppard: I think the old show
was very indicitive of its time.
Gilles Nuytens: You
have played guest roles in so many shows, what is
your favorite character to play so far?
Mark Sheppard: Romo Lampkin! No question,
I think he is absolutely the most amazing character.
Ron said something really nice to me, he said you
know we have seen you as a bad guy so many times it
was nice to write you something where you’re
not a bad guy.
Gilles Nuytens: Can
you speak about your experience on 24 and meeting
Mark Sheppard: Kiefer Sutherland?
He’s a great guy! I like him a lot, he’s
a very good man and he’s very much in charge
of his set. He is very much in charge of what goes
on around him and a very interesting man. 24 was a
funny experience. It was written for me by a man called
Evan Katz, who is an Executive Producer on the show
and who I did a show for a long time ago. I had origanally
auditioned a couple of times on 24 and I didn’t
get the roles and they decided to write me a role.
They said we’ve got something for you that will
be really interesting. I had no idea what it was when
I got it. So it would evolve every week, I was maybe
supposed to be there for two or three episodes, and
it became this sort of drawn out thing, this character
without much to do. I was yet again a bridge between
two sections I think. Between the first section and
when Julian Sands comes in. But it was fun to play.
24 is an extraordinarily complicated show to make.
They were very good to me, I did 6 or 7 hours.
Gilles Nuytens: Do
you like SciFi in general?
Mark Sheppard: I love Scifi! But
I don’t see it as anything different from anything
else. I mean it’s like I enjoy stories. Good
stories, if they are good stories they are good stories.
I don’t watch something just because it’s
SciFi and I wouldn’t avoid something because
Gilles Nuytens: Do
you like Stargate?
Mark Sheppard: Stargate? Honestly
I have never seen an episode of Stargate or any of
Gilles Nuytens: Would
you play on the show?
Mark Sheppard: I have no idea, they have never approached
me. My friend Jewel [Staite] is on it and I think
Morrena [Baccarin] was on it, from Firefly. And I
guess I just never had the chance to appreciate it.
Gilles Nuytens: Well
thank you very much for your time.
Mark Sheppard: Thank you –.
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