Moderator Geoff Boucher wasted no time starting Friday's "Caprica" panel at Comic-Con International. "I'm going to bring out some people," the Los Angeles Times writer said before introducing actors James Marsters (Barnabas), Sasha Roiz (Sam Adama) and Alessandra Torresani (Zoe Graystone), creator Ronald D. Moore and executive producer David Eick.
The audience was then treated to an extended trailer for the next half-season of "Caprica." (You can watch it below.)
Boucher's first question was for Marsters, regarding his character's ties to religion and terrorism, and the layers they add to the series. "Being able to play a religious terrorist these days ... there's a lot of meat on those bones," said Marsters, who drew inspiration for Barnabas from Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. He said the most dangerous part of Barnabas, or of any terrorist, is the "surety" of their beliefs, "that they can do anything."
Torresani talked about what it's like to play more than one character. They're "all based on the same Zoe," she said. "It's fun!" She also teased that "there's a lot of new Zoes for you meet" in the upcoming season 1.5.
Boucher also asked her about twittering from the set. "I just want the fans to feel like you're a part of it," she replied. She also promised more YouTube videos, and possibly a "funny dance video" of Roiz, Esai Morales and herself.
Moore compared "Caprica" to the classic TV series "Dallas," because he wants to show that science fiction "doesn't have to be action/adventure-based; it can be family drama-based." Asked point-blank whether "Caprica" will return for a second season, Moore said they're "talking to the network, figuring out schedules and budgets. ... But I believe we're coming back."
At this point, cast member Magda Apanowicz (Lacy Rand) joined the panel.
David Eick spoke about the show's "'Blade Runner' heritage." "Blade Runner" and "Black Hawk Down" both had the same director, and the the series takes a lot of inspiration from that. The central question is, "What does it mean to be human?" And they constantly have fun "upending expectations about what the definition of that and what someone is."
Asked about her experience on the show, Apanowicz said, "I feel so lucky. It's hard to get great scripts in this day and age." Lacy is a "character I love discovering," and she especially likes exploring the "dark places" of the character: "I love that she keeps being beaten down, and learns she has strength and a voice and decides she needs to do something."
Marsters and Roiz asked whether they found a lot of "Caprica" fans weren't viewers of "Battlestar Galactica."
"Lots of people who didn't watch 'BSG' ... watch 'Caprica'," Roiz said. "It's an honor, it's also a responsibility. 'BSG' fans want you to do justice to the prequel." He added, "It's cool walking into a fanbase."
Marsters said he likes that "Caprica" "stays on the planet. They don't fly off into space too much, and I think it's easier for those pieces to comment on our world."
Torresani commented that, "'Caprica' is our life in rainy Vancouver. It's an amazing thing. It becomes a family, and I hope it shows for you guys." She added excitedly, "Eric Stoltz is my dad, so Cher is kinda my pseudo-grandmother!"
The panel then took an intriguing turn toward feminism, and Moore's penchant for writing very strong women. He said he's "always been interested in writing female characters in nontraditional military roles," something that goes even back to his days on "Star Trek." "I liked casting them as captains," Moore said. The original "Battlestar Galactica" didn't utilize women well, so he asked "Well, what if Starbuck's a woman?" That led to a female president and Number Six. "Female roles saved the world every week," Moore said.
The events of Sept. 11 were very much woven into "BSG." But what shaped "Caprica"? We see a lot of corporate issues and ethics. "Caprica is us today," Moore said. "'BSG' is us in a post-Sept. 11 world." The original idea of "BSG" was, "What if everyone in the World Trade Center was alive, and everyone else was dead?" "Caprica" deals with issues of society, class and the immigrant experience, and is "recognizable as the world we live in now." Essentially, "It's everyone inside the WTC in the years leading to 9/11, it's all going to come to an ugly messy end and none of them are aware of it."
The next question, for all of the actors, regarded how their characters have grown and surprised them. For Marsters, the surprise was "How much love there is in the character." He had planned to play Barnanas as evil, but at the end of the day, he's actually a "loving methodist priest." That "really surprised" him, "and somehow the creepy came in."
"The gay, I think, was a bit of a surprise, but pleasant," Roiz said, adding that it makes Sam Adama "much more layered." And he loves that it's "not a stigma, not an issue."
"He's not the mobster you think he is," Roiz said. "He's a loving uncle, family man, and a devoted member of the communiuty."
For Apanowicz, "Lisa felt undefined." But she realized, "that's what she is: undefined, and still being molded."
An audience member asked Marsters how he separates himself from Spike, his recurring character on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and Barnabas.
"Spike came out of a period of my life right after I got kicked out of college ... bartending at the Hard Rock, hanging with bad people in bad places," he said. "Barnabas is my dad, but my dad never blew anyone up."
The panel took a slightly uncomfortable turn for a moment when a fan asked about the "BSG" movie. "We can't talk about it," Moore said. "Know not of such things."
Asked whether it's difficult to reconcile the events of "BSG" with those of "Caprica," he answered, "We gave ourselves leeway. We didn't talk about historical stuff." Everything that was brought up in "BSG" is dealt with in "BSG," he said, which leaves "Caprica" wide open for storylines.
Moore revealed that viewers will get peeks of other Colonies in the series, including Gemenon "in the next episodes." In season 2, we'll see more of Tauron, and "Sam's investment and focus on that, and the conflict taking place."
The writers "don't know" if we'll see any background stories for the human characters that became Cylons. "We've talked about it briefly," Moore said. "Maybe."
"The fundamental question of both shows is what makes us human," he said. In "BSG," we see the "refusal of humans, almost to a man, to say Cylons were people. In 'Caprica,' you're watching the beginning of this conversation." The Zoe avatar thinks of herself as human, and "Daniel wants to say she is."