Geekadelphia recently had the opportunity to speak with Tricia Helfer, the sharp and stunning Canadian actress and producer who became a household name for many American geeks from her breakout role as Number Six in the 2004 “Battlestar Galactica” reboot.
Since her beginnings on Battlestar — Tricia’s first series as an actress — she has taken part in dozens of projects for mainstream TV networks and film. She also voices Black Cat in “The Spectacular Spider-Man” and other characters in popular video game series, including “Mass Effect” and “Starcraft”.
Tricia currently stars as Charlotte (“Mom”), the Mother of Angels, on “Lucifer” — a newer TV series developed by FOX and DC, based off the popular Sandman comic spinoff, now in its second season. She took a short break from shooting in Vancouver, where she is on location until April, to speak with us.
Thoughts on “Lucifer”
On playing the Mother of Angels:
“When I was pitched the character… she had a lot of layers, and I think that’s what attracted me [to her] right from the start. She was introduced at the end of the first season and she wasn’t just this ‘evil’ character coming in… She has a genuine love for her children and also desire for what she wants, as well — she was cast out of heaven into Hell. She wants what was taken from her.”
“They [the fans] seem to, from what I see and her from them, they don’t know how to place Mom. They don’t know if she bad or if she’s good. They love her and they hate her at the same time.”
On Mom’s character arc and writing in the series:
“With episodic TV, you don’t always know where it’s going… It’s not like being in movies where you know the beginning, middle and end, and know the entire arc of the character. You’ll drive yourself crazy [as an actress] if you don’t, at some point, let go… so you have to have faith in the writers. And with the ‘Lucifer’ writers, I have a ton of faith because they’re a great group not only personally but because they really enjoy what they’re doing and are collaborative among themselves and with the actors. So for me, I don’t [yet] know Mom’s end game. I don’t know what her ultimate goal is or what she’s going to do to get there — or even if she’s going to get there. But for me it’s fun playing along the way.”
“The writers are great with their humor in the show. That was the thing that stuck out when I was watching the first season — which I wasn’t in, obviously — was how funny it was. It’s a drama but it’s funny, which is why when something in the character relationships or another dramatic element hits, like when Lucifer loses his wings, it really takes you off guard. I think ‘Lucifer’ has found the right tone. They’ve found a very unique tone for the show, and they do it well.”
On working across different mediums
“It’s hard to compare them [multiple acting mediums]. I haven’t done theater….yet. [Laughs] I’d probably be drawn to a short run of something… It all has its own uniqueness to it. Film and television acting is very similar, it’s just the schedule is different. [If I had to pick] I would probably choose on-camera acting just because I like the experience of working off the other actors. In voice acting, it’s very rare you’re recording with other actors, or even working opposite of them. It’s fun, you get to use your imagination… but you don’t get the interaction you would get with on-camera [acting].”
Playing Six on Battlestar Galactica and the sci-fi genre
“One of the fun aspects of acting is to get to play all types of roles… I don’t know why I’ve struck a chord [in fantasy/sci-fi genres] but I’m glad that I did. There’s some amazing storytelling in the fantasy/sci-fi genres. Sci-fi is all about the question of ‘What if?’ and you’re not confined by the constraints of a regular family drama. When sci-fi is done well it is incredibly entertaining, exciting and asks a lot of good questions. It’s what people are drawn to. It makes them think.”
“The series bible that Ron Moore gave us — all the main characters had a 2-3 page backstory — and I had ‘The machine as woman.’ That was it. For the entire series. Was she an angel? Was she a chip in his [Gaius Baltar’s] head? I didn’t know [some things] and I didn’t even know if they [the writers] knew.”
“How do you make them [the Cylon copies] different? And how do you make them the same, and how much? Are they carbon copies… or different people? That’s definitely something we [the cast] all worked on and discussed. Battlestar was a very collaborative show.”
Comments on fandom and social media
“In some way you just have more fan interaction in the sci-fi world. You certainly meet more fans… Sci-fi fans are quite loyal. They’re supportive.”
“Right around Battlestar, when I started acting in 2002, there was no Twitter. You didn’t have that type of fan interaction. At all. Now, with social media becoming so predominant, the fan interaction has gone up exponentially.”
On Acting Outlaws and riding motorcycles with Katee Sackoff
“It’s basically just us, her [Katee Sackoff] and I… We shot a documentary called the ‘LA La Ride’ to bring awareness to the ongoing clean up and trouble from the BP oil spill, back in 2010. We rode motorbikes from LA to New Orleans and chronicled it. When we started riding motorcycles, we were drawn in and impressed by the fact that the motorcycle culture, which often gets a bad rep… has a very charitable aspect to it. There’s a lot of motorcycle charity rides and toy drives, and fundraisers, and things like that based around the culture and riding. It marries our love of riding and wanting to give back to the community. We produced one of our own rides called ‘Path Home’ which benefited Path, one of the largest homelessness organizations in southern California. And we join in with other rides, like the Tulip ride up in Seattle which benefits the Humane Society. It’s mostly us donating our time… donating our time and trying to do some good where we can.”
Thank you so much for talking with Geekadelphia, Tricia.