Ben Cotton Talks Battelstar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, on Blu-ray and DVD this week
Even though Syfy did not pick up Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome to series, BSG fans got to experience this new show in more ways than one. The two-hour pilot was split up into 10 webisodes before the entire episode aired as a TV movie on Syfy. Universal Studios Home Entertainment is releasing Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome on Blu-ray and DVD February 19, which is set during the first 10 years of the Cylon War, between the events of Caprica and Battlestar Galactica. I recently had the chance to speak with Ben Cotton, who plays Coker Fasjovik on the show. Take a look at what he had to say below.
Were you a big BSG fan coming into this? How familiar were you with this whole world before you signed on?
Ben Cotton: I was moderately familiar with it, when I got the job. They talked about having watched the show from beginning to end, and I hadn't done that. I watched a number of episodes. Of course, a lot of actors on that were friends of mine, because it was shot here in Vancouver, so I knew a lot of people in it. I had seen a fair amount, but when I got the job, I figured I had work to do. I started watching the series, and then I had to decide to sort of pull the plug on that. There's so much to watch, and it's so rich. In my case, I wasn't playing a character who had existed in that world. There wasn't much I needed to be familiar with.
Yeah, it's not like Luke (Pasqualino), who was playing a younger version of Adama.
I heard about some of the training you had to go through before shooting. Did you have a lot of time before you shot? It sounds like it was a pretty extensive shoot for a pilot.
Ben Cotton: We did have a lot of weapons training. There was this group of amazing gun lovers, who taught us how to look like we were in the military, how to deal with the guns, how to work the guns fast, how to shoot them, and how to look like Rambo. We learned how to do tactical things, like coming in and sweeping a room, how you would work in a group of three, just a lot of technical things, the way that you walk, the positions you take, and when you change positions. There's a lot of technical military stuff, which is pretty fun. We shot a lot of guns. It was great. You don't really imagine yourself going to work today and firing 300 rounds with a machine gun. It's pretty cool.
I don't know if you and Luke Pasqualino were cast together, but I have to imagine you were the first roles they were looking for. What can you say about working with him from the beginning?
Ben Cotton: We were actually cast together. When we did our screen tests, we did it together. We got to go in the room and read opposite each other. That was a thrill. We each got to go in with two characters, like I went in with two different Adama's, and he went in with two different Coker's. Both of them were great, the others that read for them were great, but there was something kind of special about Luke's. It was really fun. Immediately from 'action,' we hit the ground running. I'd love to actually see that scene, the actual audition footage, because it was really fun. When we left, we kind of had a laugh outside and a hug, and it was weird because he said, 'I'll see you soon.' I don't know if he meant we were going to get it or what, but it was prophetic and cool. Right from the get-go, we just had a great time. He's really good. Adama needed to have two things to him, among others I guess, but he needed to have a certain cockiness to him, and a certain vulnerability to him. There's a depth to that character that a lot of 21-year-old's might not be able to pull off. He's from the U.K. and he would throw on this American accent that's just fantastic. I just thought, 'Oh, this kid is good.' It was just so fun to work with him, because we could throw the proverbial ball back and forth to each other in any way, performance-wise. I felt nobody dropped the ball. We just kept going, which gives you a sort of safety. You feel like you can really explore the characters that way, and know you'll be taken care of by your partner. It was pretty cool.
What would you say the balance was between green screen and practical stuff was? I have to imagine there was a lot of green screen.
Ben Cotton: The entire thing was green screen. I don't think there was a single wall in that set. Anything that we touched was real. We actually got into the ship, but, otherwise, everything around us, was green screen. It was interesting. I kind of think of it like a black box theater, because as an actor in a theater like that, every wall is a fourth wall. You just imagine everything, so it's a fun exercise, but you really have to do your homework and know what you're looking at. All the actors in the room, when they look at something, we have to decide what point are we looking at? We have to pick that spot on the wall, and everyone looks at the same place. It's challenging, but it was fun. That kind of brings everybody together too.
I know this was originally conceived as a back-door pilot that they wanted to go to series on Syfy. It was cool to see the webisodes come out of that, after the series wasn't picked up. Most pilots don't get that kind of opportunity. What were your thoughts about splitting it up and how the fans reacted to that?
Ben Cotton: When I first auditioned for this, I think that was the initial plan, to put it on the web that way. Then it became more of a back-door pilot, so I think it kind of went full circle back to its original plan. Personally, I prefer to see it all as once. I prefer it with no breaks, but in TV, you kind of write to a commercial, your acts are sort of contained between commercials. The medium is sort of built to be broken up, so I thought it worked quite well, when they broke it up onto the web.
Were there any discussions of where they would take the story, if the pilot had been picked up? Was there anything you would have personally wanted to see explored more about Coker?
Ben Cotton: We didn't really get much into what was coming, necessarily, for the characters. I probably would have liked to know more about him and his wife, because I thought a lot about that relationship that I made up in my mind. That relationship intrigued me. There was also more in the script, and what we shot was much longer than what we saw on the web or on Syfy the other night. There were scenes where the wife was discussed a couple of times, or Coker's thoughts on marriage. It came up a couple more times than what we saw in the final product. That relationship intrigued me a lot. I was also curious about his vices. I wanted to hear Coker defend himself about his drinking. I thought that would be an interesting thing, or to have him screw something up because he was drunk, and see what happens there. That kind of thing intrigued me.
Are there any future projects you have coming up that you can talk about?
Ben Cotton: I've got an episode of Defiance coming up pretty soon. I guess Defiance starts in April. I'm really excited about that. I can't really talk about the show yet, because it hasn't aired and there are a lot of confidentiality agreements. You sign your life away, nowadays. It's going to be a real thrill, that show. There are amazing performers on it, and everything about it is breathtaking. I can't really say anything beyond I'm really excited about it.
What would you like to say to all the BSG fans out there about why they should pick up this Blu-ray and DVD this week?
Ben Cotton: Well, there's going to be a lot of extra stuff on the Blu-ray and DVD, so if you're into that, it's going to be really fun. I'd like to tell them thank you for supporting it, because it's been a really fun ride.
That's about all I have. Thanks so much. It was great talking to you, Ben.
Ben Cotton: Thank you. Take care, Brian.
You can watch Ben Cotton as Coker Fasjovik on Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD February 19.