Longmire and former Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff jumped onto the big screen last fall to play the ruthless mercenary Dahl in the long-awaited Vin Diesel sequel, Riddick. With Riddick hitting Blu-ray & DVD today, the 33-year-old Oregon native talks to ETonline about why the similarities between Dahl and BSG's Starbuck don't bother her; her tomboy upbringing playing "cowboys & Predators" in her Portland backyard; the status of her all-female version of The Expendables; and how she pretty much asked her dad for permission to do her first movie nude scene!
ETonline: From Halloween: Resurrection to Galactica and Riddick, you obviously take on a variety of projects, but you keep on coming back to sci-fi, horror and fantasy. Are you a fan of those genres when you're sitting down to watch TV or go to the movies?
Sackhoff: Oh, for sure. I mean, not horror – I tend to think that there's enough things in my daily life that scare the shit out of me that I don't want to go to a theater and come out crying because now I'm terrified as well. I tend to gravitate towards sci-fi and fantasy for sure. You know, I was raised on it. My dad raised me on everything science fiction and a lot of action movies in our household -- a ton of action movies. So I grew up wanting to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Like, that's who I wanted to be. So it was a blessing the day I found Alien because I realized I didn't have to emulate men anymore; I could actually be a woman.
ETonline: So you were chomping on cigars before Starbuck came along, is what you're saying.
Sackhoff: I was, and was fighting aliens in my back yard. It was a weird thing. I was a weird little kid. (laughs)
ETonline: No, that's good! Sounds like you were a bit of a tomboy.
Sackhoff: I was very much a tomboy. We didn't play cowboys and Indians. We very much played, like, cowboys and Predators (laughs). We played Jaws a lot too. Like, I don't know if you could play Jaws with feet, but we played Jaws. I was obsessed with Jaws when I was, like, seven.
ETonline: I played Jaws by not going into the swimming pool for a very long time.
Sackhoff: Yeah, well, I'm still scared of the ocean!
ETonline: Now, Riddick comes along – it's a big franchise and you're a big fan of sci-fi, so how exciting was that? And, did you have any hesitation due to similarities between your mercenary character and Starbuck?
Sackhoff: Not at all. I was such a fan of Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick that it made complete sense for me to fight for this role, and there's still a large majority of the population that's never seen Battlestar Galactica, so there's a lot of people that watched [Riddick] who have no idea who Starbuck is, and so it was an opportunity for me to bring similar characteristics between the two characters on the big screen and have it be a fresh take for a lot of people.
ETonline: I really enjoyed The Chronicles of Riddick because of how it expanded its universe after Pitch Black. Then you're sort of back to basics with Riddick. Was there pressure on the set, especially with Vin, to make this something really different since Chronicles didn't do so well from a box-office standpoint?
Sackhoff: I think the only pressure that Vin put on himself was just making the fans proud. … Vin very much had the fans' voice in his head and he wanted to give them what they've been wanting for 10 years, and I think we did that.
ETonline: I was a bit shocked when I saw you taking a shower in the movie and doing a nude scene! That wasn't what I expected. Is that a big deal to you? Is it no big deal?
Sackhoff: (laughs) It was kind of a big jump only in the sense that I had never done nudity before, so for me it was kind of like I thought about it for a second. I really did. I was like, 'I don't know if this is the time.' You know, I really held off on doing any nudity. And then I called my dad, and he kind of put me at ease and was like, 'You've made it this far without showing any boobs, you might as well do it.' I was like, 'Thanks dad, awesome!' (laughs). So it was a good moment. I called my dad and was basically asking for permission, and he was like, 'Go for it!'
ETonline: That's very cool and, I would venture to say, a very European take on things, where it's like, 'Eh, it's like a topless beach, it's no big deal.'
Sackhoff: Yeah. You know, it's just a boob. It's not like I whipped out my hoo-hah, you know? (laughs) It's very, very different than had I done a little bit more. And it was only the left one.
ETonline: There you go – although I felt like I maybe should have paid half price!
Sackhoff: I keep saying they couldn't afford both. (laughs)
ETonline: That's right. You should put a very high bounty on them.
Sackhoff: Well, there's only a very high bounty on the right one. (laughs)
ETonline: Hand-in-hand with that, at what point does nudity become gratuitous for you?
Sackhoff: It's a fine line. I think that it's all up to the performer to decide that. I didn't think [my nude scene] was gratuitous. I think that it lent purpose in the story, and I truly asked myself that question, because I wouldn't want to do it if it was gratuitous. In my mind, it required a scene like that for Dahl to realize that Riddick could have killed her – she was incredibly vulnerable – and he didn't do it. So it actually makes her pause when they go to kill him… You know, some people may think [the scene is] gratuitous, but, you know, I don't give a shit.
ETonline: Switching gears, I must confess I'm a big Battlestar Galactica fan, and I know working on the show was a major bonding experience for the cast. I like to think that you guys still all hang out and play poker with cubits and drink too much like your characters. How often do you see your friends?
Sackhoff: Oh god, I just had two weeks with Tricia [Helfer] in Mexico and I'm tired of the bitch (laughs heartily). No, I see Tricia quite a bit. I see her very, very much, and I see Michael Trucco quite a bit also. Other than that, I talk to Mary McDonnell a lot, and she and I have grand expectations of each other. … She and I seem to be always working, so we can never work it out, but I definitely do see the cast and talk to the cast, and even when I don't, they're not far from my heart and my mind. There's a mutual love happening pretty much between everyone on that show.
ETonline: I'm glad that it endures. One last question: You were reported to have joined an all-female version of The Expendables. What's the status of that project?
Sackhoff: The status is I've read the script, it's amazing, they're doing one more pass over it, I think, and I wouldn't be surprised if we're filming by the end of this year, maybe. We've had to take some time anyway because I'm going back to [film the third season of] Longmire from March 'til June, but it is happening, fingers crossed, by the end of the year. Script is done, and it's pretty amazing. … It's very action-packed.