Ben Cotton on ‘Battlestar Galatica: Blood & Chrome’
If you haven’t seen the “Battlestar Galactica” prequel movie “Blood & Chrome” yet, it’s now available on DVD and Blu-ray. The all new story shows William Adama (Luke Pasqualino) on his first mission. Ben Cotten plays Coker Fasjovik, the veteran saddled with this rookie.
We got to speak with Cotten by phone about his role in the “Blood & Chrome” movie and where things might go for Coker and Adama in the future.
CraveOnline: You must be the only character who’s yelled at Adama.
Ben Cotton: [Laughs] Well, I’d have to go back and watch the series again.
CraveOnline: Me too, I’m making a very big assumption here.
Ben Cotton: That’s entirely possible.
CraveOnline: You had a chance to appear on “Razor” and “Caprica.” How long have you been in the “Battlestar” family? Was that just a coincidence or have you worked your way up to a leading role?
Ben Cotton: I think part of that was just a function of the fact that I live in Vancouver and they shoot here. Both shows were shot here so I guess I’ve been in the family for a while. I can’t remember how long ago “Razor” was, but “Razor” was the first time. That was the beginning.
CraveOnline: How different was it playing a leading role in “Blood & Chrome?”
Ben Cotton: Oh, like two different shows. With “Razor I think I showed up and finished shooting before lunch and that was the end of it. So I barely got to know anybody. Of course, some of the crew was the same but it was a different crew when we did “Blood & Chrome.”
It’s a different ball game when you’re playing one of the leads. It’s obviously a whole lot more work but a whole lot more intimate with everybody. You get to know everybody and people help you out a lot more when you’re number one or two on the list. People bring you water. [Laughs]
CraveOnline: What was your take on Coker when you read the script?
Ben Cotton: I loved him. I don’t know, there was something about Coker that resonated with me. In fact, I didn’t get to read the script for quite a while. Nowadays in TV everything is very secretive of course because they don’t want anything leaked over the internet, so you don’t get an entire script sometimes until you’ve got the job.
But before you get the job, I think in this case there were two auditions and a screen test before I actually saw the whole script. So that’s an interesting trip. It was funny, I auditioned for Coker before Christmas and I thought about him through the holidays and into January which is then when we resumed to audition and screen test.
Usually when I audition, I do the audition and it’s gone. I walk out of the door and I don’t think about it again, but for some reason Coker stayed in my head. I thought about him a lot, about the person, which I thought was interesting. That was unusual for me. So I really liked him. I really liked him. There was something about him that I thought I can get behind that guy. I kept imagining what his life might be which again was unusual for me so I knew that something sort of resonated for me right away.
CraveOnline: Was it a really competitive audition since this is “Battlestar Galactica”? Everyone must want to be part of it.
Ben Cotton: I imagine it was, although I wasn’t really privy to that. I just kind of went and did the auditions and that was it. I knew a few other guys that were there and I don’t know how many people auditioned from around the world. I imagine there were a lot. I don’t really think about competition much. I guess I just don’t think about it that way. I just think I’m going to go in, I’m going to do my thing and Dave over here is going to go in and do his thing and it’s going to be different and his might be better, but that’s okay. I kind of feel like you play the ones your’e meant to play.
CraveOnline: When did you know you hit it off with Luke Pasqualino
Ben Cotton: Soon as I met him. When you meet Luke, he’s not a hard guy to get along with. We had fun in the room. We got to go in and audition together when we did the screen test. We went in and they said go and we started doing it. We started throwing the ball back and forth so to speak and it was great. It was awesome. There we were, we hadn’t met before, and there we were shouting at each other and going to town.
It was great. I think the first scene that we did in the audition was the one where the two characters meet. He comes in and says, “I’m your new pilot” and I said, “I’m cleaning up the remains of my last pilot.” There’s that first sort of heavy moment for him where he goes wow, this is a big deal. That was our audition and it was great fun. We left the audition, we hugged each other and Luke said, “I’ll see you soon.”
CraveOnline: This must not have been your first green screen experience. How did it compare to other special effects work you’ve done?
Ben Cotton: I had done some, although nothing on that scale. This was amazing because there wasn’t a single wall in that show. I mean, everything was green screen. So I saw some of the dailies after the first day because there’s a few things I wasn’t really aware of, or I just wasn’t naturally taking in my environments the way that you would if you were in a real room.
A regular person, when you walk into your office, you walk into a shopping mall, whether you play really close attention to it or not, you kind of glance around at your environment. You see different things, you register different things. But when you’re an actor doing green screen, especially in the first couple days, you kind of try to avoid the green screen a little bit because it’s this big elephant in the room and you don’t want to acknowledge it too much, so I found when you looked at the shots on the dailies, there I was. I would walk straight in the room, straight to the actor and look him right in the eye and not look at anything.
I was glad I saw dailies after the first day because then after that you can sort of work with the green screen. It’s certainly an interesting challenge. You use your imagination a lot. We were given great concept artwork that showed us what each set was meant to look like, what the Cylon facilities looked like, what the snow planet looked like, what each room, each set, each ship, all of those things looked like. We had ideas about that so we knew even what we were meant to imagine, so that helped.
CraveOnline: Did that become easier when it was just the three of you, or when there were scenes with the larger supporting cast?
Ben Cotton: I don’t know if one way or the other was easier or not. I think we got more and more used to it as time went on, so of course as we shot it got easier and easier and easier. Eventually it was just nothing. It was just great, there was green. I think I was dreaming in green for a few weeks.
CraveOnline: Do you hope there are continuing stories of Coker and Adama?
Ben Cotton: I think it’d be really fun, sure. I think it would be good fun. I’d love to work with Luke again and all of the team, David Eick, Michael Chandler and everybody. It’s a really fun group of people so I would certainly enjoy exploring more stories of them, yes. I want to know more about Coker’s life. He still somebody that I think about, that I wonder about his life and his wife and more of what his story is.
CraveOnline: Do you think a “Blood & Chrome” series could get into his private life, or would it focus more on the battles?
Ben Cotton: Oh, I suppose if it were a series, hopefully they’d be able to do both I guess. I certainly want to see a lot of battles, but I suppose that would be a big part of it would be an exploration of the characters. I think it’d be fascinating to watch more of Adama at that age as well. There are so many experiences that they could give him that could help us understand the later version as well, the [Edward James] Olmos version as well.
CraveOnline: Since Coker is not in the original “BSG,” do you expect one day there’d be a good death scene?
Ben Cotton: For Coker? Yeah, I guess. I hope so. If there’s a death scene there I hope it would be a doozy.
CraveOnline: Not until season five though.
Ben Cotton: Yeah, once you’re tired, once you’re super tired and just I can’t do it anymore. [Laughs] 17 hours a day.
CraveOnline: During those battle scenes, did you have any portion of a cockpit to sit in?
Ben Cotton: Oh yeah, anything that you actually physically touched was real. So we did have a ship there. We were in a ship, but there was nothing, obviously there were no ships flying by. Everything that we looked out at was just a big fat green screen.
And then if you’re in a room, there were no walls. There was none of that, but if there was a table that you were sitting at, the table was there. We had a scene playing the piano and there was an actual piano there, that kind of thing. So yeah, the cockpit was cool. It was pretty neat to sit there and think, “Wow, I’m a spaceman.” My childhood dream has actually come true.
CraveOnline: How closely did you watch the original “BSG” series?
Ben Cotton: Most people when they talk about that series they talk about having just spent the last two weeks of their life watching it from start to finish and I hadn’t done that. I had seen a number of episodes and of course I had seen stuff I’d been in, but I wasn’t terribly into it with the series.
Then when I got the job, it happened so quickly I went out and I bought the whole thing and I thought okay, here we go, I’ll go through it. But I had to stop because I thought I need to focus on Coker, because there just wasn’t time to do everything that needed to happen. The job happened rather quickly. Once it was in motion that I was getting the job, it was like we’re shooting very soon. So I had to sort of pick my battles in that sense.
CraveOnline: Do you have to keep up with TV as a working actor, because you might do a guest spot on a current show like “Arrow,” which you’ve done recently.
Ben Cotton: Yeah, “Arrow”’s a great show. I guess there’s different schools of thought. I think you’ve got to keep up on what’s going on. It’s good to be aware of what a show is. You certainly want to watch a show before you audition for it so that you understand the tone of the show. You have to know what world you’re in because there’s such a difference between something like “Modern Family” versus “Sons of Anarchy.” Completely different tones there so it certainly is a good idea to know as an actor what world you’re in.
CraveOnline: What are you working on now, and what will we see you in next?
Ben Cotton: I think what’s coming up is up here in Canada I’ve got a couple more episodes of a show up here for the CBC called “Arctic Air” that stars Adam Beach. So I think those are coming up on air quite soon. Then there’s an episode of “Defiance” coming up. Michael Chanlder is on that show.
CraveOnline: I saw the pilot. Which episode do you come in on?
Ben Cotton: Unfortunately I don’t remember what number I’m in. I’ll be coming up sometime soon. Talk to Michael, maybe he’ll know better than I will. That’s going to be an amazing show. We’re still not allowed to talk about it really. There’s a lot of confidentiality agreements in terms of discussing anything about the look or the world of “Defiance,” but that show’s going to be amazing. That’s what I can say about that.
CraveOnline: Will you appear in the "Defiance" video game as well?
Ben Cotton: I can’t say.