Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Galacticon Preview: Interview with Tahmoh Penikett

I was given the opportunity to cover Galacticon for www.thestevestrout.com later this month. Galacticon is a celebration of the epic science fiction franchise , Battlestar Galactica. I absolutely loved the series, and made me a fan of many of the actors and actresses from the cast. I had the priveledge of having a great phone conversation with one of my favorite cast members, Tahmoh Penikett.

Tahmoh is not only known for his portrayal of Helo Agathon on the BSG series, but many other great characters from some cult classic shows like Joss Whedon's Dollhouse and one of my personal favorites, Supernatural, where he played the Angel Gadreel.

Please enjoy and share my interview with Tahmoh Penikett!!

Since we're promoting Galacticon, A Battlestar Galactica convention, let's get right to a couple BSG questionsHow has being a part of the BSG franchise affected your career and life?

It's been one of the most positive things to happen in my career and life, for sure. It's the most relevant and longest lasting project that I've done. After ten years it remains relevant and common for people to still bring it up in conversation about television. It's poignant television that stands the test of time and that's been incredibly positive since all these people remain dear friends of mine. It's great to be a part of such an incredible piece of art.

It seemed like the kind of show where there would develop great camaraderie between the cast and crew. Is that a safe assumption that you've gotten a lot of friendships and close ties out of your time on BSG?
Incredibly. Probably more so than most shows. We're known for that. A lot of us are still very very dear friends. We have very active social lives together. Our families all hang out. It's a special thing in that way and I think we will always be connected. Regardless if any of us go on to do other shows and other things, that show was a very very special and significant thing in all of our careers and our lives, ya know. In the duration of five years people had kids and got married. There was a lot that's happened and we're still hanging out. We're still loving each other and glad to be a part of that thing.

I've see a lot of your interviews and fan interaction online and YouTube and such. You seem really genuine, and that resonates well with the fans. What does the fans adoration do for you, personally?

What does it do for me? You know, I'm flattered that I get it. It's a reciprocal thing. When I'm doing press, when I'm meeting fans, when I'm doing conventions I try to be as giving as I can. I'm only comfortable if I do because they're showing up. They've supported us. They've supported our careers. If we're doing a convention, they're paying good money to get our autographs and get pictures with us. It's a reciprocal thing. The only way I sit well with it is if I give them what I feel that they are deserving at least. Then I can feel like we can both feel good about the exchange. It's a beautiful thing. None of us would have this success without the fan's support so far. It's always been tremendous, especially with this group of people and this show.

What are your favorite parts of these conventions? What do you look forward to that you haven't already talked about?

A lot of times I get to see actors and friends that I haven't seen in a while. This show in particular. We're getting all of us together, and were celebrating the wonderful series that we were on. We get to do it with our friends. It's a rare occasion that all of us are getting together, the Battlestar crew, and doing that together. That basically guarantees a great time. We're gonna have a fantastic time. It's great seeing the fans that supported us so much. They've been incredibly loyal, They're an intelligent audience, and it's always flattering to hear what they have to say and to hear how much the show affected them and their lives.

Sticking with the convention topic...I attend and cover a lot of conventions, and see a lot of interaction between fans and celebrities. Basically, there are a lot of "eccentric", fans out there. Have you encountered any, or have maybe a funny or crazy or weird fan story you can share?

Ummm, I don't know if I've had any crazy or weird ones, but we've all had some odd encounters, and there definitely are some adventurous people, and you know...I've been asked to sign many many different body parts and most of those I've unfortunately had to deny, but  listen, that's part of the charm of it. You gotta grow to love all the eccentricity of it. A lot of people are unique at these conventions, but they get to be themselves. After you do it for a while you get to appreciate it and accept it for what it is. You recognize what it is and you know that they're feeling safe in this environment and it's one of the few times they get to be themselves. I really do appreciate it.

I totally agree. I'm kind of a socially awkward person, myself, but these conventions really get me out of my shell...Now, have any of these fan interactions made YOU yourself emotional?

Oh that's a good question. I've had peole approach me and tell me how much my performance and my character's plight and storyline helped them get through a very very dark time in their life. When people have really really emotional and powerful things and just really shared how much you've helped them push forward. That's really incredible to hear that your work has affected someone in that way. That's the whole point, right? That's why we do this.

Let's talk career a little bit...You've worked various roles from Helo on BSG, to an FBI agent on Dollhouse, to an Angel on Supernatural, and even a soldier on the last Superman movie. How does your approach to each character differ? Is it different from tv to movie roles?

It's all the same man. You gotta make your choices. You gotta figure out what given circumstances are. Sometimes you use different tools in your toolbox, but acting is acting. As an actor, you know, I have an intention. I have a focus. I have a motivation, and I have a story to tell. I'm gonna approach it pretty much the same way. The difference being, if your working on a bigger budget thing and you have time to prepare, you can put in more of the preparation. Sometimes, some tv, some shorter things, you just don't have that time to put in.

I'd like to talk a little about your native heritage. I you feel a sense of responsibility as a role model for other First Nation and Native American actors and performers?

There's definitely a responsibility, but there's also an opportunity, you know what I mean? There's a real opportunity to educate, and In my small humble following, with my small celebrity to get out information and education that people need to know and learn, specifically in my country and in North America in particular that there's a lot of miseducation about the First Peoples, about Native Americans. Those bridges need to crossed. They need to be fixed then these two different nations can move forward. Then, we can live in a tolerant, educated, accepting world.

Are there any traditions from your heritage you follow to stick to and instill upon your family? 

Yeah there's some, but you know, but it's not something I'd just share in an interview. There's a lot of things I've been taught that have been passed down to me that aren't something I'd just talk lightly about, but ya know, theres a lot of traditions and outlook and attitude given from my grandmother and my family that I'm gonna pass on to my son and any future family that I have. I try to instill in people that are near and dear to me, or any younger cousins that I have. Really man, the biggest one that I CAN share is about respect. It's respect for other people. It's respect for the planet. It's respect for every creature on the planet. Ya know, it's about respect and gratitude. Those are two really really important things that we have to walk with every day and be mindful of.

Absolutely. That's something we all can live by no matter our race or background. 

It's common to us all, man. It's common to humans. It's something we all need to be mindful of.

What kind of advice would you give to any, not only native, but any young actor or performer?

Any advice I would give to a young actor would just be to work very very hard and just do stuff, man. Just make stuff happen. This day and age people can film their own stuff. They can shoot short movies. You can do a short film for literally no budget. Ya know, the digital quality on phones these days is incredible. You can make things happen. Don't sit around and wait for it to happen for you. Be active. Just be active, man.

And now with the crowd funding stuff, that helps.

Of course, all of that!

What are you working on nowadays? Do you have anything exciting coming up?

I'm doing a little writing. There's a couple projects that were looking at right now, and I hope that they're gonna work out, but, a little writing is happening right now and just taking time to myself being back in Vancouver and really enjoying spending some time with family and getting out in the outdoors.

Thanks...I got one more quick question that I've really wanted to ask a cast member from Supernatural. I'm a fan of the show, but it's kind of a silly question. Gadreel was a fantastic character, and you did a wonderful job portraying him...I've wondered how hard it was, since you worked with him a lot, how hard it was to not call Curtis Armstrong "Booger"?

(laughs) That's funny. Well,  I'll tell you this one of the first days we shot with him, we had a bunch of extras, and I remember a couple of them were like, "Booger, Booger". I mean, I think he's dealt with that for so many years, that it's just normal for him. He didn't even really react to it, but I took notice of it and thought "man, that's gotta be kinda annoying", but at the same time I think he accepts the fact that it's an iconic role and it a got a cult following, and ya know, it was really the beginning of his career. Curtis is a really accomplished thespian, and a really great guy.

That'll do it. We're really looking forward to seeing and meeting you at Galacticon in Seattle later this month. Have you spent much time in Seattle?

Yeah I've spent some time there and I like really it.

Thanks for your time!

You too, man. You be well and have a great day.

That wraps up this interview. This convention is going to be so much fun. I'm honored to be covering the convention! If your in Seattle between July 31 and August 2nd , I highly recommend checking out the show! For more info, click on the Galacticon logo:

Steve Strout is the media mastermind behind this site, host of the Comic Book Swap Meet, nerd, terrible artist, gamer, convention goer and comic book reader who spends more time rescuing toys from thrift shops than a normal adult should. He is also known around the northwest for his promotion of live music and stand-up comedy events and is the creator/producer of the Comic Book Swap Meet mini convention, and Olympic Peninsula Comedy Competition (which will make it's big return in 2015). Follow him on Instagram at http://instagram.com/thestevestrout, and  He can be reached for comments at ptcomedy@yahoo.com on twitter at @thestevestrout