Katee Sackhoff is no stranger to the role of the badass. She was the cigar-chewing, Viper-piloting tough and layered Kara "Starbuck" Thrace for five years on Battlestar Galactica and has brought a similar energy to other shows and several films through the years. When Empire reached her at home in Los Angeles, she was just back from an MRI scan, something she gets regularly after being treated for thyroid cancer in 2009. In 2013, she co-starred in Riddick as Dahl, the female officer who takes no crap from the men around her and tangles with Vin Diesel's titular growler. The role proved controversial, though Sackhoff says she never saw it as such. She's still one of our Unsung Heroes.
What sort of reaction did you have to Dahl?
Ninety nine per cent of it has been positive. And there's the one per cent that thinks the movie is a little sexist towards her. It's funny, because I didn't even think that while we were shooting it. I was, like, "I don't understand what you mean by that," when she's the person who throws the first punch, says the worst things to everybody else, so I didn't really understand it. So I would say that there was a tremendous positive response to the movie, that people really loved it, and that it was worth the ten year wait.
When you got the script and Riddick was talking about the infamous "balls deep" line, did it give you pause?
Absolutely not! Not for a second. I thought the line was creative, I've heard the line before, I've heard people say it out in public, which is actually a little disconcerting, but no, it didn't bother me at all. I thought it was quite humorous and it fit the tone of the movie quite well.
And it felt like she turned it around on him later on..
She doesn't take that crap. And not only that, but her comment to him indicates that she was thinking the same thing the whole time anyway, maybe. I don't know. I think that people who were offended by the line were giving the movie way too much power. Here's what it comes down to: not everyone in the world believe that women deserve equal pay, that women are just as capable. To some it's fantastical. We're not in the film business to avoid ruffling feathers and I think that it's an accurate portrayal of what being a female soldier is like for some people and I thought it was completely right on base. Coming from a woman who does think women are just as capable as men and should be making more than them, I didn't have a problem.
It seems like it was a boy's club on set. But you're used to that...
It was fun. I became really close friends with Matt Nable (who played Boss Johns) and I've seen David Twohy, the director, two or three times since the movie came out and I became close with him because I had great time. It reminded me of growing up in high school with my brother and all his friends, because I've always hung out with the boys, so it makes complete sense for me.
|Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica|
You also took it to Comic-Con. Was that everything you'd expected? Was it different to doing it for, say, Battlestar Galactica?
It was just doing it on a bigger scale. For Battlestar, we'd have 5000 people show up, but for Riddick there were 5000 people waiting who didn't get in. It was just a very different scale, but science-fiction fans are the best fans in the world and they would follow you to the ends of the Earth - literally, because they'd probably think it would be fun - so I thoroughly enjoy Comic-Con, I always have and it's a fun time for actors and people in the business.
It must be nice to get the reactions on that scale...
It's the closest that film actors can get to stage, in the sense that you have this gratification that you get from the fans in a very personal setting, and that's not normally the case with film and television. Unless it's a half-hour comedy, where you have the audience. So it's a nice change to go and hang out with people and hear what the fans have to say about performances.
And people tend to be more positive when they have to comment in public.
Everyone's always entitled to their opinion and not everybody is going to like what you do. However, the internet has allowed people to become cruel and cowardly, and sometimes horrible things are said. People hide behind that computer screen and they find themselves more opinionated than they would normally be - and in a mean way. I was always taught to treat people with respect. You're allowed to hate [what I do], but you're not allowed to be mean to me or anyone else involved.
I just finished a movie called Tell, which was a lot of fun and I have the untitled Adi Shankar movie next year, which is a female action movie like The Expendables. I just read it, it's fucking brilliant and I freaked out. It's one of the coolest scripts I've ever read. It's not campy at all, it's just kicking ass. Then back to TV with Longmire in March. Oh, and trying to fit a wedding in there somewhere...
Riddick is out on DVD and Blu-ray on January 13