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October 21, 2014

Jamie Bamber Talks 'Battlestar Galactica,' 'Outcasts' and 'Law & Order: UK'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jun 17th 2011 2:30PM
It should be clear by now that I just can't quit 'Battlestar Galactica.'

On June 11, BBC America began re-airing the acclaimed Syfy series, and there's still time to get on board. The entire four-hour miniseries that kicks off 'Battlestar' airs starting at 5PM ET Saturday, so if you've never seen this thought-provoking drama, now's your chance.

Last week, I talked to 'The Closer' and 'Battlestar' actress Mary McDonnell about working on the Syfy show, and I also recently chatted with Jamie Bamber, another member of the 'Battlestar' cast who also appears in 'Outcasts,' a sci-fi drama that debuts on BBC America 9PM ET Saturday.

Bamber, who also appears in BBC America's 'Law & Order: UK,' said he still constantly meets people who say they meant to watch 'Battlestar.'

"People are always saying, 'I've been told it's good, I never got round to seeing it,'" Bamber said. "Not everyone has seen it, and BBC America has a whole different audience that may not have been tuning into Syfy all those years ago" when 'Battlestar' began.

He said he hasn't gone back and "systematically" watched the show, but he said he's seen parts of it since it went off the air two years ago.

"It always blows me away," Bamber said. "It's slightly strange, too, because we're all eight years younger [the miniseries was shot in 2003] and I'm still friends with everyone -- it's interesting to think about how all our lives have changed."

His favorite moments from the show often revolved around finales. "Especially the season 3 finale, when I got to do a bit of courtroom stuff," Bamber said. "I got to inhabit so many different worlds on that show. There were so few people that they all had to multi-task. I was a fighter pilot, then a lawyer, then a politician. I got to play so many different things."

'Battlestar' changed him as an actor, largely because the job gave him "the most camera hours that I'd ever had on any given set," he noted. "The older I get, the more I believe in practice and work over natural talent and ability. For those of us that were involved from the first days of 'Battlestar,' we were encouraged to give of ourselves and to feel that we had a voice, not just as the character but as part of the family that created the show. It changed me, certainly. I feel like I learned a ton about acting, especially from some of the more experienced actors around me, but also about how stories work and how they can develop."

Choosing his next projects was tricky, he said, given how high 'Battlestar' had set the bar.

"It's hard to measure up to 'Battlestar' -- it's hard not to measure things against it," he said. "'Law & Order' was something that I chose because it couldn't be more different, in the sense that this was a very sparse, procedural story set in a much more modern age in a city that we know.... The thing for me that made it interesting was going home to London and making an American product work for British TV. That was the challenge I really enjoyed, and the fact that it has really worked has been tremendously gratifying."

As for 'Outcasts,' which I briefly reviewed here, Bamber was wary of the project and actually ended up playing a different role than the one the producers originally approached him for. But in the end, he said, he's glad he was part of the show's cast.

"I'm reluctant to get involved in science fiction, because I feel like I've done it and done it well, so unless something comes along that I feel has the potential to do something even more interesting, it seems a shame to sort of re-live something in half-measures."

'Outcasts' follows a group of "human beings trying to start again" on a new planet, Bamber said. "Whereas 'Battlestar' was very militaristic, because it had a very definite and threatening enemy, this is more 'human beings having done it to themselves.' Which 'Battlestar' is arguably about too, but [in 'Outcasts'] there's no sense of an external threat. The threat is from within and from the new planet. It's much more sociopolitical and it's much more British and I was very keen to see what the BBC could do."

As for Bamber's future, he said he does not expect to return to 'Law & Order: UK' (he appeared in three seasons of the show, the last of which has yet to air on BBC America), and he's settled with his family in Los Angeles at present. He reunited with 'Battlestar' executive producer Ron Moore for the pilot '17th Precinct,' but that didn't get picked up by NBC, so Bamber is enjoying "freelancing" at the moment.

"I'm looking to do a few more individual projects rather than necessarily leaping into another long-term TV contract," Bamber said. "Although, you know, never say never."

The folks at BBC America came up with a couple of amusing videos -- one about Bamber's accent and the one below, which goofs on the fact that the network broadcasts a lot of Bamber-centric shows:



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