Interview with Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Cast: Ben Cotton and Lili Bordan
Recently I was given the opportunity to speak with two cast members of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome – Ben Cotton and Lili Bordan. Ben Cotton played the part of Coker Fasjovik and Lili Bordan played Dr. Becca Kelly.
In my recent review of the Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Blu-ray, which just released on Tuesday (2/19), I wrote that I found the film to be quite enjoyable. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it reminded me exactly why I love the Battlestar Galactica series. I only wish they were given the go-ahead to create a series around this timeline.
Andrew Stevens of FanBolt.com interviews Ben Cotton (Coker) and Lili Bordan (Dr. Kelly) of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome
FanBolt: Before receiving your role on Blood & Chrome, were you a fan of the Battlestar Galactica series?
Lili: I was living in Europe during the run of the show and moved to LA just after the series ended, but felt I’d seen images from Battlestar. It definitely seemed familiar, so I’d been exposed to it in some way. Really, I only got into the show after reading the pilot script.
FanBolt: How was your reaction when you learned you got the role on Blood & Chrome?
Ben: I was a fan of the BSG series before I got the role of Coker. I will say though, that I had not yet seen the whole series the way that the real fans had. I guess I was a bit of a tourist. Ha. I thought the writing was wonderful on the show, so I was very excited at the prospect of becoming a part of the franchise. It certainly wasn’t lost on me what a big deal it was. Quite a thrill!
Lili: During the auditioning process, friends would talk about BSG’s immense following, and what a huge deal it would be to play a leading character on such a well-liked show. When the role was finally mine, I laughed and cried at the same time. It was the first time in a while I’d reacted to anything like that.
FanBolt: How was it working with green screens all the time? I’m sure you were given a lot of direction on what your surroundings were like so that you could react accordingly, but can you go into more detail about the entire process?
Ben: The green-screen work was challenging in that we really had to work together to decide when and where to look at things outside the ship, for example. It required a lot of imagination. We had an amazing design team and were given drawings that showed us what everything would look like when it was all put together, so that really made it easier. It felt at moments, a little more like doing theatre, because at least one of your walls is always imaginary. In this case it was ALL four.
Lili: The green-screens were a welcomed challenge. It allowed us to collaborate on a whole other level. We’d seen drawings of what the environments would look like after CGI, but we were also given a lot of freedom to use our imagination. In the end, it’s the green-screen and an amazing post-production team that allowed us to film as quickly as we did, and that was important.
FanBolt: Which was the most difficult scene to film and which was the most enjoyable?
Ben: Wrestling with the beast on the snow planet was definitely a workout. It was actually a green bucket on the end of a broom handle and a very strong man fighting me on the other side. Also, I nearly passed out a few times while shooting the battle scene where we ended up crashing into the snow planet. That was because the helmets were sealed, and unless you’re attached to the power cord that operates a little fan in the helmet, there’s only about 6 breaths worth of oxygen in the helmet. If you were seated in one spot, you were fine, but if you had to move more than about three feet, you had to unplug. The problem was that the scene was much longer than 6 breaths! On a few occasions I could feel my legs giving out, and I kept thinking, “Don’t ruin the shot… Don’t ruin the shot…” I reached the point of panic a few times and actually had to tear the helmet off and gloves. You kind of lose reality for a few seconds in the panic. I actually cut up my face with the helmet on one take and didn’t care, haha; It had to come off. Now, the funny thing is, after about three breaths you begin to feel fine again, so I’m sure it looked pretty funny.
Shooting the scene where Coker and Adama meet was pretty fun because it was the scene I had auditioned with. It was pretty cool to see it all actually happening. It’s amazing when all the departments come together like that with all the sets being built, the props are there, the lighting and so on. I mean, I guess that’s a given in a way, but it’s a real thrill to see when everything comes together, and everyone did such a beautiful job.
Lili: The Raptor was on hydraulics and during the chase scenes we were thrown around quite a bit, so bruises were a common sight among the cast, but we bore our war-wounds proudly. The intense shoot-out scene was the most fun to make. They attached a “squib” to my right shoulder which exploded and felt really interesting. There was a lot of conflict and gun firing in the script. The characters spent a lot of time trying to “find” each other and connect in the midst of trying to survive a war and complete the vital mission.
FanBolt: Ben, your character exhibited a wide range of emotion throughout the film, some of them subtle. As an actor how did you prepare for those changes in emotion and are you the type of an actor that calls up personal experiences or do you do a great job of mimicking life?
Ben: I’m not sure how to name my process anymore. It seems to change and evolve a lot. I try to use my imagination as much as I can. I find if I imagine my fictitious situation thoroughly enough, including how the character feels about everything and what’s at stake, eventually you create a visceral reaction in the body. And then you don’t really have to worry too much about planning. The emotional turns take care of themselves. I do conjure up my own “stuff” when I need to I guess, but I find the imagination more reliable.
FanBolt: Looking back, what did you enjoy most about working on this project?
Ben: It’s so hard to say what I liked best about working on this show. It was really a great experience from beginning to end, especially when it came to working with Jonas Pate, Lukas Ettlin, David Eick, Michael Taylor, and, of course, Luke Pasqualino. Creatively it was so much fun. There was a freedom to explore character and nuance that is often not present in television simply because there’s no time. We had three cameras going at all times which meant every take was ‘your’ take. It gave extra time to try out things. Usually, when you have only one or sometimes two cameras, you have to shoot the actors one at a time, so you’re not on camera for half of the times you run a scene.
Lili: I enjoyed playing a character with an overarching, idealistic objective. Dr. Becca Kelly is just one girl, but she aims to save the world and she thinks she can do it on her own.
FanBolt: Do you enjoy the sci-fi genre and why?
Ben: I think sci-fi is wonderful because it gives you such a broad canvas to create with. You’re limited really only by the imagination, especially nowadays with how far technology has come. We can really do anything.
Lili: I enjoy sci-fi, if it is grounded in true human drama. Otherwise it’s spoof or fantasy – both of which have their own appeal.
FanBolt: Is there anything you would like to add that Battlestar Galactica fans may appreciate hearing about?
Ben: I guess I’d just like to say hello and thank you to the fans. Sci-fi fans are unimaginably kind, welcoming and passionate, so thank you. People have been very kind so far. I also wonder if anyone’s been able to read the words on the side of Coker’s flask! 😉
Lili: Perhaps that we really sought to create something original, even within the familiar Battlestar Galactica Universe we all know and love. And that I really hope you enjoy it.
I would like to thank Ben Cotton and Lili Bordan once again for taking the time to answer my questions – thank you!
I hope you all enjoyed what they had to say, and should anyone know what’s said on Coker’s flask, let us know!