Katee Sackhoff on 24 and the Unlikely Thrill of Being Waterboarded


Katee Sackhoff is a self-admitted thrill junkie -- that's why she was a perfect fit for the daredevil pilot Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, and it's what made her casting on the final season of 24 sound like a no-brainer. Still, her character Dana Walsh hasn't always had an easy time of it; during the first half of the season, she was often stuck in a subplot involving a no-good ex-boyfriend, and it's only recently that Sackhoff's gotten to show off her action-packed bona fides as Dana was revealed to be this season's obligatory, villainous mole.

In advance of tonight's episode, Movieline spoke to the always-candid actress to get her own feelings about her character's arc and to hear about the torturous stunt she couldn't wait to do herself.

Your character got waterboarded in last week's episode. What was your reaction when you got that script?

Well, when I first read it, I thought, "It's about time they do something to this poor girl." [Laughs] I was excited to do it because I've never been waterboarded, and I thought it would really be kind of fun. We tried to do it with a tube in my mouth, which just made it completely difficult, so I was like, "You guys are just gonna have to waterboard me." They were like, "Are you sure you're OK?" and I was like, "Oh yeah. Just waterboard me."

Katee! Who wants to be waterboarded?

It's pretty crazy. Like, [the scene] was just basically me holding my breath. It was pretty intense. There was one time where I actually breathed in and I thought I was gonna die. I mean, it hurt so much, because your lungs just take in tons of water immediately. For some reason with that towel [over the face] being soaking wet, your lungs suck in water. It's crazy.

I've heard that even if you think you can handle the physical torture of waterboarding, the level of panic it induces in your brain is the thing that really gets you.

That's the main thing, and not to mention that since the towel is full of water immediately, you can't breathe through it. As soon as you breathe in, you take in water like you're underwater.

And they did multiple takes of that?

Oh, multiple. Yes. All day. [Laughs]

You sound kind of giddy about it!

I really like that stuff! I'm a bit insane when it comes to doing my own stunts and getting down and dirty. It's fun, you know? It's things I wouldn't normally do in my real life, so when I go to work and get to beat people up and shoot guns and get waterboarded, those are things I find completely interesting.

Were you happy with what the producers were giving you to do earlier in the season?

I took the job based on what I'm doing now.

So you knew that eventually you'd be revealed as a mole?

Basically. I mean, [the producers] didn't know for sure, but I was blessed and cursed with being told more than other actors usually are, from what I understand. With me, it was a situation where I was coming off of Battlestar and a pilot I'd just done, and I had some options in front of me. I sat down with the writers and the producers [of 24], and they basically said everything that was music to my ears. I was like, "I'll do it!" Basically, as soon as I saw that there was a role available on 24, I jumped at it, and then when I sat down and talked to them, it seemed to get more interesting and more fun.

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  • etienne says:

    Huge fan of hers from BSG but man did she get the stinker role on 24!
    Id do the same as her though, take the cash and get more exposure but seriously a patch job of crap characters like Kim and all the other stupid reverse twin moles of lame-O-land. Thank god 24 is going to movies, now we can get some big ass action movie shit going on screen and its only 2 hours of suspended reality, not 24.

  • anon says:

    katie: your lungs only fill with water if u are drowning, if that happened then u werent waterboarded properly. the experience simulates the pain of water entering the lungs

  • PHD says:

    "I actually don’t watch TV"
    I love Katee but whenever TV actors drop that line it really gets on my last nerve...
    so we are idiots for providing you the platform for a very lucrative career?
    shut up with that...