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Katee Sackhoff Interview: ‘Longmire,’ ‘Riddick’ and Stripper Poles

Katee Sackhoff
Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sackhoff has floated around the galaxy a bit in the years since ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ famously ended.  After a few short-lived stints on NBC series ‘The Bionic Woman,’ FOX’s ’24,’ ‘CSI,’ and the un-picked up Dick Wolf drama ‘Lost & Found,’ the former Kara Thrace has finally come back down to Earth…for now.

Sackhoff currently stars as Detective Victoria “Vic” Moretti of A&E’s new Wyoming procedural drama ‘Longmire,’ which premiered last night, and follows the Craig Johnson novels of the same name.  Sackhoff considers Vic to be one of the first “normal” characters she’s ever played, but insists on the same brand of feminine strength she brings to all her roles, science-fiction and the more grounded.

We recently had a chance to sit down with the lovely Katee Sackhoff, not only to discuss her character on the excellent new drama ‘Longmire,’ but also her eventual turn in the upcoming high-concept ‘The Chronicles of Riddick‘ sequel, dream projects past and present, and believe it or not, when you might see her on a stripper pole!

Oh yes, fellas.  It’s happening.

‘Longmire’ aired last night, and it has a very different look and feel than any other show that’s on TV right now.

It’s extremely different from everything that’s on TV.  I try not to read the reviews, but all the actors from the show keep coming up to me going, “What about this one, Katee?,” because I’ve gone through this before, I know what it’s like to get bad reviews.  But this show’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  I love the show, I think it’s amazing, but it is a throwback to old western.  The pacing is more methodical, and slow, and it’s not this “instant gratification television” that’s on right now, that everyone seems to be kind of jumping on the bandwagon for.

What can you tell me about what first attracted you to the project?

I liked the character, I liked the script.  Then I read Craig Johnson’s book, absolutely loved the first novel , I loved his ability to set up this world, and really have you invested in these characters.  And then I met the producers, and I absolutely loved Grier Shephard, John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin.  Loved them.  They were the real reason I took the job, just to have faith in them that they could create something very different.

If the pilot episodes covers Craig Johnson’s first ‘Longmire’ novel, how do the ten episodes of this first season pick and choose stories from the other books?

I would say that what we’ve taken from the books is pretty much just the idea, and there are certain story lines that are coming up, and certain characters that have come up that were in the books, but as far as doing the exact stories that are in the books, we haven’t quite done that yet.  I think what we’ve been able to do with ‘Longmire’ is balance this procedural with a bit of a soap opera, and it’s a character study of this character Walt Longmire, and the people around him.

We’ve been able to kind of mix that, but you’ve got to have some sort of payout at the end of the episodes.  We don’t want to get into all of the story in the books, the main first book’s main story is so heavy, and so long that you’d never be able to do it in one episode.  You’d have to take all 10 episodes, and just wasn’t what they wanted to do yet.

Would you say that the show’s emotional core is all about Walt, or will we explore your character Vic’s back-story and home life a bit?

Truth be told, its everybody.  Every single character has a bit of a character study into their life and what’s going on [there].  Vic is definitely running away from something, but at the heart of it, she’s a woman who followed her husband when he got relocated.  There’s a lot of stress in that because they get to Wyoming, and his job continues to be a job that takes him traveling, and she’s been stuck in Wyoming by herself, and she thinks, “well, I’m gonna do what I know how to do, and become a cop again.”  So it’s every single person’s drama, and then at the center of it is the fact that they’re all police officers.  Separately they’re all a bit of a mess, but together they actually make one whole, fully functioning police officer.

What can you tell me about the relationship between Longmire and Vic?  In the books, their relationship eventually grows much deeper, so will A&E’s rendition shy away from that, import it, or somewhere in between?

I think it’s in between.  In the books, Vic is married as well, so I think its something that’s just going to take more time to come to a head.  I think there was a moment in episode 7 where I for the first time saw how these characters could potentially end up…maybe not together forever, but could end up together at some point.  It is following pieces of the book.  From the very start, I think it’s more of a brother-sister relationship, but I think eventually they start to realize that they’re kind of kindred spirits, and there may or may not be a little love connection.

Why do you say that Vic is one of the first “normal” characters you’ve played?

I think I said she was normal because shes the first person that I’ve played that isn’t somewhat crazy.  It’s kind of nice to play somebody that isn’t psychotic, or half-machine, or dead, or dying, or on a spaceship somewhere.  This is the first character that’s actually rooted in some sort of normalcy, and she wakes up in the morning and has the exact same concerns that I have, so it’s in that way that she and I are very similar.  It’s every day concerns that every woman in this entire world has on a daily basis.  We all wake up, and I’m sure at some point during the day we all have very similar thoughts regardless of our circumstances, and where we are in the world.

What have been some of your favorite moments to shoot this season that you can tease us about?

There’s been things that you’d never think you’d actually do in real life , and I never thought that I’d do on film, but I had to get on a stripper pole, which was just lovely.  It was something that I was really terrified to do, and I thought “I don’t understand how this is going to be a good thing at all,” but ended up being quite fun.  So that was one of the most fun moments, and then just running around with the boys, you know, just me and a bunch of boys.

Some time ago, you tweeted about a top-secret role that you were very excited about, that many assumed to be joining FX’s superhero pilot ‘Powers.’  Was there any truth to those rumors?

I think the secret role I was talking about was probably ‘The Chronicles of Riddick,’ but there was a lot of talk about me doing ‘Powers.’  Ultimately what it came down to was that they needed to cast the [male lead, since cast with Jason Patric], and I didn’t wanna wait for them to figure it out, so I took another job.

What can you tell me about ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ and your character?

The film is finished, we shot January to April in Montreal.  I play a character named Dahl, and she’s a Nordic bounty hunter.  So again, it’s me and the boys, me and about 9-10 different big men chasing Riddick, and it’s pretty awesome.  It’s just visually one of the coolest things I’ve seen.

‘Longmire’ must be a relief compared to the strain of some of those action sequences.

What’s funny about it is that ['Longmire'] has actually been more physically demanding than ‘Riddick,’ just on a daily basis.  We shoot on location every single day, I’m constantly running through the woods, and doing punches and kicks, grabbing my gun, or purely just standing in one place for 4 hours and 7 different scenes for that day.  This is a lot more physically demanding than ‘Riddick’ ever was.  I had to be in better shape for ‘Riddick,’ but this is definitely more physically demanding.

You’ve played so many comic book and geek friendly roles, what can you tell me about any dream roles of yours?  You know, ‘The Avengers 2‘ is probably casting…

Every dream role that I have to play is a bit more down to Earth than these action roles.  Of course I love the action, I absolutely love doing action movies, it’s what makes me tick, but I think my dream role is a movie that Will Smith’s company has called ‘Paper Wings.’  It’s a country singer [who falls in love with] a bull rider, and I’ve been in love with this script for seven years, and I’m just waiting until I talk about it enough for them to actually give me a phone call!

Well, Will Smith has been out and about a lot more these days because of ‘Men in Black 3‘ press…

Yeah, I auditioned for ‘Men in Black 3,’ so I’m doing everything in my power to get close to Will to say “Get ready!  Let’s do this!”

‘Longmire’ airs on A&E Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m.

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