Onstage, Moore recalled his initial hesitation in doing a series reboot of the 1978 original.
“I had done ten years of [Star] Trek and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back into space again,” he shared on his thoughts about being approached to do the project by exec producer David Eick in 2002. It only took a weekend of contemplation before Moore was on board.
“I was struck by the idea of doing that show in that moment of time,” he said, having watched the original pilot three months after 9/11. “It had a completely different resonance where suddenly it was about an apocalyptic attack out of the blue that devastated these worlds. The story was about the survivors who ran away from being pursued by their enemies into the night. I immediately thought if we did that show now, it was an opportunity to talk about the things that were happening in the world.”
Moore wasn’t the only one that was reluctant to sign on. Star Edward James Olmos had turned down an offer to join the series, his reason being he “basically had a strong understanding of the [sci-fi] world but had gotten it through Blade Runner” and wanted to keep that aesthetic. He told producers that if he saw a Creatures from the Black Lagoon-type character, “I’m going to faint on camera and you’re going to have to write that he died of a heart attack.” Eventually it was the writing that sold him. “It was brilliant from the first page.”
Such was also the case for Mary McDonnell, who played President Laura Roslin on the show. She admitted to not being familiar with the original and not understanding the premise. “But then I read the script and fell in love with all of the characters, ” she said, adding that “it was very important to me to explore a woman coming into power without a cultural training or support behind her.”
“We were shooting this when Hilary [Clinton] was running and it became a very timely event for me. There was a deep emotional connection.”
Moore’s re-imaging of Battlestar ran for four seasons from 2004-2009. When asked about what he thought the show would look like in the current political context, he said:
“We did Battlestar in a very specific moment of time, there was a marriage of what was going on in the world and the inherent story of the apocalyptic attack, and it was very resonant because it was a post-9/11 piece.”
With that said, “yes, we would take advantage of the current political situation and talk about the world and how it’s changed,” Moore remarked, although the vision for the show wasn’t so clear. “It’s hard to imagine doing it today, you’d have to start from a blank page and decide what of the original story is still relevant and what would we have to say if we’re going to do it all over again.”
Years later, the premise of Battlestar Galactica still holds relevance.
“The idea that humanity could be reduced to 55, 000 people all of a sudden and force that collective group of people to have to see each other as one to me is the thing that continually resonates about the show, “offered McDonnell. “We’re in a time where the powers that be are trying to create as much difference between us as their pocketbook will allow… We’re unfortunately living on the edge at the moment. Perhaps we can stop dividing each other and see each other because there is no difference. That’s one of the things I love most about what Ron did.”
Moore, McDonnell, and Olmos were joined on the panel by Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, James Callis, Michael Trucco, and Jamie Bambervia via Skype.