When it was revealed last
month that Ellen Tigh was Battlestar Galactica's final Cylon, the fan reaction was
decidedly mixed. Understandably so. The character had been dead since season three and some viewers felt the last Cylon should be a more prominent player. However, now that we know Ellen is the one, it
puts a few of her past actions into perspective, and yet raises several questions at the same time. KTV reporter Marisa Roffman chatted with Kate Vernon — who comes back to the show tomorrow night — to get her
take on her character's big reveal, how long she's known about it, how long Ellen's known and why, at one point, she thought she'd burned her bridge with Battlestar…
We just found out about your Cylon status a few weeks ago. When did you find out?
[Executive Producer] Ron [Moore] and I were trying to figure out the timeline. To be exact, we’re
not sure when the phone call took place, but I’ve known for
approximately two years.
I know. He told me like three months before the writers strike. And then I went back and shot the episode that revealed me [“Sometimes a
Great Notion”] and that was the very last episode we did [before] the strike. After that, I was
supposed to come back to work right away, but
they rearranged the story so I wasn't in the first three episodes, so
I had to wait longer to shoot. And then they split the season in half and we had that [long break between June and January], so I had to hold on to the
secret until this [half of the] season aired. Finally! It took
It's a long time to have to keep a secret like that under wraps.
It got old, let me tell you. I wanted to say, I’m the Fifth!
Some fans might've been happy if you spilled that secret.
I’m so glad the secret didn’t come out, because as much as fans want
to know, it’s this weird thing, like watching a train wreck. You
can’t help but watch, but it makes you upset for watching. You don’t
really want to know the secret before it’s revealed [onscreen], because
then when it does happen, there’s this anticlimax. I’m really glad that
even those people that [suspected] it was me weren’t
completely sure and that the shock is what it is. Apparently there are
a lot of people who were really thrilled, and a lot are mystified and a lot are upset. Ron has his reasoning. He’s not a random
writer. Everything he puts down on paper has a reason behind it, a
notion behind it, an idea behind it.
Were you surprised when Ron told you? Or did you kind of see it coming?
I was completely surprised! I had been
calling Ron every several weeks, because I mean, what actor wants to
get killed off of Battlestar. Nobody. It was an incredible show to be a
part of. I loved and adored my character. And even though I was dead,
Ron said I would be back in some fantasy sequence. But he wasn’t sure in what capacity. So
every several weeks, I’d pick up the phone and say, Hi Ron, it’s Katie,
just wondering, you know, if I’m going to be back anytime soon. And
he’d say, Yeah, in fact, we’ve written you in, in some fantasy sequence
where you’re torturing your husband to sleep. There were a few
phone calls like that. And the last phone call, he stopped me and he
interrupted my sentence and I thought, oh God, I’ve gone too far. I’ve
burned that bridge. But he said to me, Katie, I’ve just pitched this
storyline to the network and it would feature your character heavily
if they green light it. I was so surprised. A week later, he calls
me back and tells me it’s a go. And I’m thinking, wow, cool. And then
he tells me what it is. I had no idea. The fact that he could consider
me being the fifth Cylon never really entered my frame of
consciousness. At all. I was like, are you sure you’re talking with the
right person? And I loved his reasoning. Ron’s amazing.
Ellen being a Cylon does seem to make sense if you think back to
earlier episodes of the series, especially when she was trying to get
Tigh to take control of Galactica. Do you think Ellen knew she was a
No. I don’t think so. She was a sleeper Cylon. Maybe a part of her was working unconsciously, I don’t know. But consciously, no, Ellen did not have the awareness that she was a Cylon. That’s what my
understanding is. Maybe in her programming, on a deeply buried
subconscious level, there was some sort of motivation on her part for
her husband to gain power, his rightful Cylon power… [laughs] Even
though I never played it like that. I never had it clear that she would
be a Cylon, let alone the fifth Cylon. So it’s Ron’s masterminding that
pulls it all together really beautifully.
Fans first suspected Ellen might be a Cylon when Tigh started seeing visions of her while interrogating Six. Was that foreshadowing or was he just feeling
guilty about his role in Ellen’s death?
I think it’s both. Saul and Ellen have an ancient relationship now.
Now that everyone knows who we are, it’s clear that these two people have been connected and involved and married for thousands of years. And
they’re very much a part of each other. So for him to mix with another
female that is blonde and blue eyed and tall, it was like an overlay of
his tremendous guilt for poisoning the woman that he truly loves and
who he truly wants. I think it was part of his grieving process. When
someone you love dies, you try and let them go and move on with your
life, but you can’t help but have this weird holographic memory of your
Obviously the teasers have shown that Ellen is back in Friday’s episode. Is there anything you can share about that?
I don’t want to give any spoilers! I come back and the story begins to unfold. I don’t
want to say anything because it’s not like anything anybody’s going to
ever think of. If I say anything, it’s just going to take away. It’s a
really special episode and more will become clear.
Will you be in the rest of the episodes?
Yeah. I think that’s safe to say. I am.
Since the series is ending fairly soon, we can assume we’re
going to be getting a lot of information in the upcoming weeks.
Each episode is going to hit you right between the eyes and several will have a big “aha!” moment. And then we’ve got the movie, The
Plan, afterwards, which will further wrap things up for everybody.
There’s going to be a lot that’s going to be tied together.
Are you going to be in the movie?
Are you satisfied with where Ellen’s story arc has ended?
Yeah, I am. I’m really– I’m trying to word things so I don’t give
anything away… There’s sort of a peaceful resonance, a mythical
resonance at the end that was quite satisfying to see.