Kandyse McClure has been a regular with the new “Battlestar Galactica” since the first episode and fans have seen her character grow in development and importance with each new season.
Kandyse was born in South Africa and has spent a great deal of her adult life in Canada. You could say her big break came when, as a teen, she starred alongside Star Wars actor Hayden Christensen in the series on Fox called “Higher Ground.” That gig landed her a stint on an NBC Saturday morning show called “Just Deal.”
At age 19 she landed the role that gave her some serious recognition as a young adult actress coming into her own in the 1999 TV movie with Lou Diamond Phillips — “In a Class of His Own.” Ronald Moore became very impressed with her performance on the short-lived, but critically acclaimed Showtime series “Jericho.” As a result she landed her memorable role of Lieutenant Anastasia “Dee” Dualla, a role not in the 1970’s original feature, on the SCI FI Channel’s Peabody Award winning hit “Battlestar Galactica” where she has made her lasting mark within the realm of scifi genre.
Our intrepid reporter, Linda Craddock, was able to sit down with Kandyse for a really exciting interview that ended up lasting for nearly an hour. The two hit it off and had a great time talking about everything. Here it is for all of her fans to enjoy.
Linda Craddock (SoSF): Have you finished filming Battlestar Galactica: Razor?” Tell us what you can about the project? From what I’ve read Razor is to Galactica what Star Trek Enterprise was to the original series, the beginning, is that true?
Kandyse McClure (KM): Razor, what’s that? Oh, the first two episodes, yes, to everybody else, it’s ‘the movie’, beginning of the season. We’re heading into season 4. It’s definitely the big picture here, you know, all the big themes and all the big players and the storyline making their way through. I wasn’t really a great part of the first two episodes. In fact, its kind of strange because they called me and well, in season 4 and here you are but I haven’t worked a great deal as of yet. I’m waiting for my time in the sun.
SoSF: We’re disappointed, definitely.
KM: I know, I’m a little disappointed myself (laughter) well, its kind of a little paid vacation but we really enjoy being on the set and definitely moving from episode to episode, living the life of Battlestar Galactica. I enjoy being on the set and on the show and being a part of that world so I’m kind of missing, I have to say, but it’s very exciting. Sometimes I want to not read the scripts or not know too much so that I can see them when they come out and it’ll be just as exciting and thrilling for me. I forget sometimes. I’ll watch episodes that I’m not in a great deal or has another focus and forget that I’m in it (laughter) and get a surprise when my head pops up “oh, right, I’m a part of this”. The most amazing thing.
SoSF: Tell us about the audition process for the part.
KM: This is so funny. Somebody else asked me this yesterday, one of my friends like was it a lengthy thing, did you have call back, did they fly you out to L.A., was it a whole process to get this job? It was so kind of uneventful. I got the call sort of last minute. It was for a one page audition. I had a one block audition, 6 or 7 lines where I’m talking to one of the vipers and I was actually on my way to Los Angeles the next day to go down for pilot season, to go and seek my fortune and my agent called and said “well, the sci-fi thing, it’ll be a couple days work. It’ll be some money in your pocket for pilot season before you go down, so”. I went in and said my 5 lines and it was “well, thank you very much, Kandyse” and the next day I left for Los Angeles and completely forgot about it. I’m going here, I’m in these meetings, oh, I’m going to be an actor and about a week later my agent called me and said “alright, come back” (laughter). We’ve got a part on Battlestar Galactica for you and even then, it’s like oh well, you know, that’s fun, that’s sci-fi, Vancouver. We do a fair bit of sci-fi. I didn’t expect the part to be anything more than the couple of lines it was in a mini series. So it was just one surprise after the next and they called and said it’s going to be a show and yes they want to keep you on for the show and I was super surprised like wow going to have a whole season’s worth of work. I mean amazing. At the end of the first season, went back down for pilot season and didnâ€™t expect anything to happen. Same thing again. A week later, come back up (laughter). Battlestar Galactica‘s] going for another season and they’d love to have you.
SoSF: That is great
KM: Pleasant surprises, putting it mildly.
SoSF: Anastasia started the series off in the information center before transferring to the Pegasus. Your character has been described as no-nonsense, tough and pragmatic. What was your approach to develop the character?
KM: They give us a little bit of a background, a little bit of history. They give you a bible, they call it, a character bible when you first start the show so you can kind of build your story. Dualla came from; well she’s a Sagittarian. She came from a very anti-establishment background, anti-establishment family. Her father was a revolutionary and she turned her back on her family, on her father, to join the military and then very soon lost them, so her work is really her faith and her guiding staff in a way. She clings to her work and her work ethic religiously, really. And also for a person to voluntarily enlist, but also, in a particularly male dominated institution and area. Not just the military but also the area that she’s specializes in, in communications and weaponry. You have to be of a certain metal, I think, but that tough exterior that she has, that she applies to her work and her place in the chain of command in the CIC, its kind of a protective shell, I think in a lot of ways for a really quite sensitive individual that lives underneath. And I think that’s why she has that tough, no nonsense exterior, although she is a very practical person. This is one of those “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense”. (lots of laughter), which I find [interesting] because its just not me! It’s the one thing that Dee and I do not share in common. I’m not as practical as she is.
SoSF: Your character’s first romantic relationship was with Billy Keikey, President Roslin’s assistant. After his death, during the hostage situation, did you know down the pike the writers had yet another love interest in mind for Dee?
KM: No, and I don’t think they did (lots of laughter) I think I can tell you when I think it happened. I wish I could remember the episode. I believe Lee was incarcerated at the time and was being let out for certain duties because he was needed in command and I was to walk him back and forth and I to feed him information [about] how the commander then was doing and Tigh as well, keeping an eye on Tigh in the CIC and there’s a moment when I’m sort of debriefing him on his way back to his cell and he turns around and walks away and I catch myself sort of being flustered I remember the scene and how I start playing with my hair (laughter) because I happened to look at his butt first (lots of laughs), and they caught it! I think those are the kinds of things the writers search the episodes to see any kind of glimmer. So that happened and then low and behold, there I am, cornering him in the gym telling him about my feelings and whether or not he’s going to step up to the plate. See, there she is again, she has a romantic interest. She’s falling in love with somebody. She corners him in the gym. This is the situation, this is what we’re going to do and what I hope you will do.
SoSF: Now she falls in love with Lee, and they get married towards the end of season 2. Describe the mind set at that time of Anastasia with respect to the relationship between Lee and Starbuck?
KM: You know, its, and I struggled with it for a bit because here’s a person whose lost everything like everybody else. Who has this job that she takes very seriously in order to really salvage herself from that loss and who has a father figure in the commander and finds herself falling deeply in love with his son. To a large extent, it’s the reason she falls in love with his son because he carries a part of Commander Adama in him and it’s something she can be close to. But she’s always known about Kara, but it’s the difference between — you know how [in] a passionate love affair, it’s the agony and the ecstasy. It may be the thing that turns your stomach but it’s not necessarily the thing that you want to come home to or have to deal with every day and that’s how I think Dualla sees Lee’s relationship with Kara. That she’s this hot headed, you know, there’s a passion there’s a fury between them that neither of them can really explain. She sees it but it’s a difficult thing to go “oh I love you like this, but you don’t love me like that. I see who you have that love for”. I remember that year the exploration for me was a matter of Duallawanting not just any kind of love but to feel love, to believe in the greater sense, the greater being of tough love. Love has many different forms and that we don’t always get what we want, but to make work the love so [that it literally makes sense] to us. She chose to do that. To be accepting of it. I will be your pillar of strength. I will be that calm place that you can come home to. I will be the friend to you that you are to me. I really feel like she feels that Lee is her best friend and amongst her peers, amongst her equals on the ship. It got more and more difficult towards the end of that season having it sort of thrown in her face all the time and of course she couldn’t help but become a bit hot headed at it, especially when my husband goes off and sends me to go rescue her. That was a great episode.
SoSF: Yes, it was and you were very determined to do what you were ordered to do but you made no bones about letting people know how you felt about the order.
KM: Well, flabbergasted, and you know, that’s Dualla. This is my job. I have this very deep connection to what it is that I do so I’m never going to deviate from that. You’re my husband but you’re also my commander. Its survival, right, so much of sweet survival, making it to the next point on the road back to earth, everybody performs their duties, everybody rises to the occasion, just to the point when they are called irrespective of what their emotional situation is. That’s a very military brat kind of mentality, certainly but it was having the opportunity for her then to face Kara and that was what I was looking forward to. Finally the two of them are in a room together and it’s woman to woman and I can tell her “look you’re not fooling anybody. Don’t think just because I’m not saying anything or I’m not doing anything, it’s because I don’t know, it’s because I respect, I love and respect him. I believe him when he tells me. I see when he struggles with this relationship, but he has made a choice and that choice is me. And now you have to make a choice and you’re not being led along by circumstances, you’re not out of control. So when you make a choice, understand that it is your choice, you’re doing it and I’m the person that you hurt”. I thought that was such a powerful thing to have brought forth and I was grateful. The writers put it out there because so much of it was just so many (laughter) squint(y) eyed glasses.
SoSF: It was a very effective episode.
KM: It’s so funny, especially working with Katee too, I mean she’s a riot (lots of laughter). We were just laughing our asses off.
SoSF: Then you buckle down and get serious…
KM: Well, I don’t think she takes anything too serious. That’s one of the great things about Katie (laughter). Well the difference between Kara and Dualla is Dualla takes everything very serious and Kara takes nothing seriously. So for Lee it’s really, it’s a night and day kind of choice. And neither thing is ever going to be totally fulfilling. We make choices and we look at them. Love is a choice. You love somebody because you choose to do so after the passion’s gone, after the fire’s burned out or consumed you and left you less than you were before. That’s the thing Dualla wants to nurture what she sees in Lee she wants to nurture the man, the leader, the human being that she sees. It’s not even such a personal thing with her. It’s not like in high school, it her over me, but she sees him as a destructive force in so many ways. He can’t deny her because every man that she loves on the show has respect and admiration for her. The commander, Lee holds Kara in such high esteem and Dualla is kind of boggled by it because (in) her personal life is such a disaster (laughter) but she has to be okay, she has to. She has to try and understand to see what it is that the men that she loves see.
SoSF: The Cylon Fleet bores down on New Caprica and you were the first to spot them? Set the stage for this scene during that particular episode.
KM: People have been down there they’ve been setting up colony, saying OK, this is it. We’ve found a place we can start again for people who chose to leave the ship and go down there but those of us who chose to stay on the ship to stay at command, keep the wheel running sort of the engine greased in case. Yes, it’s a matter of not letting down your guard. So when I see those ships, I’m not surprised in a certain way. It was inevitable that they would find us but as such my heart falls. I think that was mainly it. This is why I stayed up here this is why the commander needed us to keep the ship running. He fought so hard to prepare for this moment, gosh, would it have to be so soon. Are we really going to have to fight to get another chance at saving ourselves, at settling down and starting again and of course we’re not ready for it (laughter) Everybody’s on the planet, how do we defend it, how do we save it, what do we really do. It was interesting because Pegasus now as the XO and not just having to fall into the chain on the CIC. Immediately you look for the commander and go “what will we do” you get on the horn and start taking care of your particular duties but as the XO, it’s about what am I going to do, what are we going to do right now?
But that’s the great thing about Dualla under pressure she’s immediately thinks of the practical perspective. Where are the ships, who’s on the ship, how many people are down there, what can we do right now, you know, what is their approach, what are they looking to do. A full out attack or are they just surrounding us, is there a possibility for discussion or what do they really want. I remember thinking it didn’t feel as all the rest of the attacks. Just an immediate barrage of weaponry and OK, automatic defense and run. This was more OK, we’re being surrounded and they’re not firing at us but I’m very, very uncomfortable. Lee what do we do. It was also that it’s just me and my husband on the ship. He’s kind of letting it slide, a little bit and I’m the one getting up every morning really taking care of it and sort of waddling later on during the day (laughter) to see what’s going on, have a snack and waddle out again (laughter). So in that moment she felt a great deal more responsibility of the fleet.
SoSF: In the beginning of season 3, Starbuck gets married. Does this in anyway, help Dee to reconcile her suspicions about the tension between her and Lee?
Km: You know in a lot of ways she really doesn’t understand their relationship. She sees, again the agony and the ecstasy and is something she can’t image wanting to be involved in (laughter) you know, too much heart ache, too much trouble. She kind of almost doesn’t believe it but hopes that it’ll be a shock or a break for me and give Lee the sort of safe to go “oh, well Kara’s sort of moving on with her life and has somebody else in her life. That’s an indication that I should turn around and look at what I have in my life, what’s good for me, definitely”. And also really believing it, and Anders and Kara are made for each other (laughter). High energy, suspicious, competitive. In a way, Kara kind of married herself in a little way. (laughter)
SoSF: There were a couple of episodes where Lee really struggles with his feelings for Starbuck and Dee knows this! Tell us, as an actress, how you prepare for these intense scenes between you and Jaime?
KM: You know, I remember having an acting teacher tell me in anything either prepare for 5 minutes or for like 5 years (laughter) and it’s something on a TV series when you live so much within the world of the character. Your character has sort of basic fundamental traits and beliefs and you remind yourself of those, then you’re really just present with the person and the writers do such a great job. It’s some exploration of obviously my past relationships. Unfortunately I do know what it feels to love someone who doesn’t love you the same way, so you go back and you remember what that felt like. Bring that memory back into your body and then Jamie is such a pleasure to work with. He’s so invested and generous. You really just have to look into the eyes of this gorgeous man (laughter).
You know, what if! What if we were married, what if I was in constant threat of loosing you to this other woman. That’s the real great joy of acting for me. It’s the moment to moment exploration to be creative enough to allow yourself to reveal yourself to feel how you would be feeling in that moment. That’s the crazy part of this, the great joy, the great freedom of it and I think it’s why we love to do it and when you have somebody that’s willing to do that with you, willing to engage in this make believe with you, you just go. I mean I really hate sound like a complete lush (laughter) but as my grandmother says “baby you’ve landed with your ass in the butter”. (laughter)
SoSF: Wow!… that’s interesting (lots of laughter)
KM: You’ve landed with your butt in the butter. A couple of really strong episodes where he and Dee, well it’s the joke on set, “does Lee diddle Dee or does Dee diddle Lee, diddle Lee Dee, Dee”. It’s all very serious, the episodes where the two of us are really confronting the roles that we play in this marriage and what we both want to do about it and Edward James Olmos directing. You have a director who’s aware of the roles, he’s one of the actors and he’s coming at it obviously from an actor’s perspective. He’s giving time as much to the rehearsal to move around. It’s one of my favorites. One of my favorite parts is I have no lines. We’re sitting in the bar and he makes the choice and he goes “yeah, I married you and I love you and this is what I want to do”. Honestly all I had to do was sit there and listen to Jamie. I was completely convinced (laughter) and then we’d crack up laughing.
SoSF: Baltar’s trial was highly anticipated by the fans as reflected in the ratings during that time. Tell us about the climate on the set while filming the trial sequence?
KM: Many a discussion [took place] amongst the cast in between takes and on the various sets. It stirred a lot of conversation about so many different ideas. Honesty, truth and disclosure, the justice system, the idea of the system, system versus revolution. The complete 180 of Lee (laughter) choosing to step into the shoes of his grandfather, the lawyer, the professor as opposed to very hard-lined and stoic father and individuating himself, I guess in a lot of ways, and the idea of setting yourself on a course for justice, but having to be sort of shady and manipulative to do so. Having to, in essence betray or cut ties or turn away from allies you’ve previously had in order to follow what it is that you believed in or to have the kind of emotions that, that stirs up in people.
See this is the thing we’re all geeks of the show so when we hang out at barbeques and what you’d find is that people are sitting around drinking wine, talking about the trial, talking about the show on the weekends and all of this informs, obviously what you are doing when it does come time to be in front of the camera. Those episodes, again, I wasn’t featured a great deal, but I got to sit and watch a great deal and yeah, I felt like I was [a part of] these procedures and Mary had a great scene when she was put on the stand. Mary always delivers with such composure. She really stuck it to Jamie. It was great (laughter) and Jamie’s great defense. Long days, though, a long, long case.
SoSF: Baltar is acquitted. The Cylons once again, find the fleet. Lee mans a viper to help defend the fleet and spots Starbuck on his wing. Is it real or his imagination/wishful thinking?
KM: Well, I hope I’m not giving anything away. Who knows? If there’s anything that we’ve learned in the last four years that anything is possible. We didn’t know they could look like us, we didn’t know the range of emotions that the Cylons had, we didn’t know this idea of God that they have, that they carry with themselves and the idea of love and how they function from that place and how they try so hard to be human and you find yourself in this immense gray area and how they manage to get us to question our own humanity like we don’t even know are we, am I, (laughter) a Cylon? What makes me human?… so it’s kind of jaded in that when faced with that possibility. I’m certain there are those that want to believe it, want very much to believe that it is so and do immediately because you know it’s Kara and she’s always been rough and tumble, ready to rock-n-roll. She’s always doing crazy things. She’s come back from the brink so many times so why not have it be her, but on the other hand we’ve also been lead down the garden path enough times. We’ve also discovered bombs and traitors and visitors and collaborators within our own midst so I think just complete bewilderment, really to what’s going on. Now what? (laughter) That’s what I thought, (laughter) I’m like “oh geez now what”
SoSF: Battlestar Galactica has been referred to as a “ground breaking” series. Tell us your views on the success of the 3 seasons thus far?
KM: I think ground breaking is a great word. I mean I’ve often said this in interviews but here’s a show that is courageous enough in the writing, in its character portrayal, in its layering of characters and in the scenes and in the archetypes it chooses to explore. To create some really interesting platforms for discussion, and again, honesty and disclosure, justice and the system. If we had an opportunity to tear down the system that was no longer working for humanity, what are the consequences and repercussions? Are we wiling to do it, really? Such interesting things with Baltar’s character. The idea of manifestation of God….had this idea of the Avatar this rising. Something being treated in your subconscious that drives you beyond yourself in order to do these great and great being positive, things. Oh he was great (laughter) and the audience that it has. We get a lot of “oh I don’t like sci-fi but I really like the show. I find myself watching the show”. I think that’s because of those universal, very archetype of themes. Yeah, we’re in space and there’s the ship and all the gadgets and vipers and cool stuff but that it’s a humanistic drama and it’s a very timely and relevant humanistic drama. That’s what’s going on right now People are questioning the system, people are exploring the idea of an individual power and explore the subconscious and the energy of the times definitely more expansive and visionary and the show is all those things so its great, kind of a port-hole for people (laughter), I think to awaken that kind of discussion in conversation amongst the sci-fi groups and also for people who never thought the merrily watching whatever they’re watching something they didn’t think they’d really like but they find that one thing, that one idea that resonates with them and leads them into new discussions and new explorations for their own self in the world around them and I think its just a powerful thing and a brave thing, an exciting thing.
SoSF: The word “Frack” – where did it originate?
KM: (lots of laughter) Well, you can’t say “F–K!” Yes, it sounds like that, but we’ll just throw in a couple of bloopers. Surely some kind of geek sci-fi back in the 70’s rip to it… but we love it. We use it in our everyday lives Oh, this is a great swear word, (laughter) but we do, we say it to each other, we get our friends to say it. (laughter) When you go to the scifi conventions and it will slip out. It’s second nature now. It’s been replaced, we’ve replaced the word. So we say it at sci-fi conventions. It also sounds like I remember reading something in the research. We did some research. We did Navy actually from military research, that kind of stuff and there is something about getting signals jammed or not being able to navigate or something like that and the term “frack” was in there somewhere, “fracking” the signal or “fracking”, yeah. It might be the shortened form of a Navy, military term.
SoSF: You filmed 6 episodes for the TV series Whistler. What did you enjoy most about that project?
KM: What I enjoy about all the projects that I — I’m really lucky in terms of the sets that I get to work on. I usually work with some really great people and yeah Whistler was the same thing. I’d worked with the creator Kelly previously on “Just Deal” show that I did for NBC a few years ago, oh God, years and years ago and Kelly’s a great writer, really quirky and compassionate soul. (laughter) I was more than happy and delighted that he offered me the part. To do something different, obviously than Battlestar Galactica, to be kind of a regular person again and also the character was really fun loving and very spirited and free in a lot more ways than Dualla was so it was great to have a break from being the stern pony tailed task master.
I did most of my scenes with Nicholas Lea and Nick is really great to work with. He challenges on set, takes nothing for granted. Every line he really seeks to understand what it is that he’s saying and the interaction between the characters and his work, his practice is to explore, not to take for granted that “oh, this is what we’re going to say, and this is where we’re going to stand and this is how it’s going to look”, but to really come in fresh everyday and go “OK, what’s happening right now, what’s going on with these people, let’s try that”. It’s a youthful set. I know all those kids. I knew them from before. It’s kind of like a frat house a little bit (laughter). Nothing crazy but everybody loves guitars and hangs out and everybody’s really young and that whole Whistler kind of rider, carefree, endless summer mentality so it was a nice little break. It was like a vacation (laughter) being somebody else.
SoSF: Was it difficult to juggle your schedule between Galactica and other projects?
KM: I donâ’t tend to take on too many other projects. Just because you never know when Galactica‘s going to need you. I’m not one of the as we say the top five or as it is the top 7 as it is this year so I get away with it, they don’t work me too hard in terms of I don’t have to come in too many Saturday’s for photo shoots (laughter). I’m not on set everyday so I do have quite a bit of time, but some of the other actors, certainly they are doing bigger projects. I generally choose to either go back and study, go back to school or to travel, take workshops or do other kinds of artistic exploration. I play the guitar, I sing. I have little pet projects in both South Africa and here. Little things that I love to do and passionate and interested in so I’m sort of grateful for the time off that I have in order to do all those other little things that aren’t about acting. I would believe in filling the well. Having that quality of life, having those experiences and nature and the intensity of a relationship that you can feed on when you are in front of the camera and you are called upon to give something of yourself. That you have something to give. I know it drives my agent crazy (laughter). It’s like “so can we look for something for you during hiatus”, and I’m like “I don’t know I thought I was just gonna go on vacation. (laughter) You know, I think I’m going to Africa. Maybe later”. (laughter). I’m pretty sure of him, “no, no, no when the show (is) over, sure, yeah later at the end of the year, yeah, we’ll go for pilot season, yeah, OK”. (laughter). Last year I got to do “Santa Baby”, a Christmas movie with Jenny McCarthy. Shot that over the hiatus in January of last year. That was just a riot. I mean doing comedy, being a part of a tag team, comedic team, Jenny and I, and she is a absolute riot, she is just the funniest person I have ever met (laughter) and so cool. We sort of hung out and told dirty jokes and ate candy in between takes. I tell you it’s like having an older sister who kind of bugged you and made fun of you, but it was totally different the whole time. It was a lot of fun. I’m just kind of spoiled, I don’t really do anything that I don’t feel drawn to or passionate about or excite by.
SoSF: With the success you have experience, thus far, are you still “preparing for a normal life”?
KM: I think I should amend that statement (laughter), preparing for a normal life. But then again, what is normal and why do we hope for it in so many ways. I’ve never gonna have a normal life. I’ve never lived a normal life, I don’t come from normal people and my mother says it all the time “baby, why would you want normal”? (laughter) This is so much more exciting. Human beings are very adaptable creatures and I, myself am very adaptable where I’ve moved so much in my life and been so many places and situations, many times very different situations, so I am very adaptable. What I’ve discovered I think perhaps in growing up is I can be comfortable with very little and almost anywhere as long as I have a mug of tea, my journal and my cozy robe and sit someplace where I can see a tree or a bit of water a piece of sky or something, that’s normal to me. Maybe I’ve changed my idea of what normal is.
SoSF: Kandyse I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview and I wish you continued success in all your endeavors.
KM: Thank you very, very much. This has been a riot!