Katee Sackhoff on 24 and the Unlikely Thrill of Being Waterboarded

So when you were doing scenes with Freddie Prinze Jr. earlier in the season, did you know then that you were the mole?

I think I did. I'm trying to remember. Yeah, I think I did. I knew from the beginning of the season that Dana was Jenny, and then when I killed the ex-boyfriend and pushed him into the water, at that point I was told that I was probably going to be the mole.


Even before the mole reveal, 24 producer Howard Gordon had to assure anxious fans that Dana would eventually pay off. Does that bother you at all, especially after you came off of playing such a beloved character on Battlestar?

Right. I don't know...I guess I can say that I did my job well, you know? If a character is supposed to be hated, my goal is to make her the most hated person on the show. When I did Bionic Woman and I was playing the villain, because it's so hyper-fictional, I think you had to make the villain identifiable and interesting. There, you want the villain to win. In a situation like 24, with Dana, she was so bad that I just kept saying to poor Howard and Brannon [Braga], "You guys, seriously, she has no redeemable qualities. There is not one." I kept trying to find one, because I've been told you always have to try to find one [laughs], but I just couldn't. At that point, I just decided to make her the best bad person possible.

You knew the end was coming for a while on Battlestar, but on 24, they didn't know the show was canceled until partway through the season. Was the vibe on-set at all similar?

I don't know, actually. I didn't really work a lot on 24 -- it seems like I was around a lot, but I really wasn't. When all was said and done, I wasn't there, so I don't know how everyone took it. This is a difficult town, a difficult business, and a difficult economy right now, so I don't think anyone wants to find out that they don't have a job anymore. It's not a good thing to have to deal with.

Is that why you pursued television work after Battlestar instead of going into film?

I'd never put all my chips anywhere, because I don't want to close any doors, but I was raised in a very blue-collar family. I was raised by parents who said, "If you don't go to work every day, you're not contributing," so that's my mentality. I have to work every day, I have to bring home a paycheck. It's what I do, it's my job, and if I can't do it, then I need to go find something else to do. For me to do television, there's a comfort and a familiarity to it that makes me feel like I'm a normal person. I actually crave that. I need it. It doesn't mean that I'm not going to do film, but television just works for me. I like being able to play a character for that long -- it's fun and interesting to me.

You work so much that your recurring character on Nip/Tuck was recast with Rose McGowan for that show's final season, since you weren't available. Did you keep track of what happened to her?

I actually don't watch TV, so I didn't see what happened with Rose. I did talk to my makeup artist, because my makeup artist on 24 was the same one on Nip/Tuck and she was able to tell me what went on. I guess there was some camping trip where Rose got killed by a serial killer or something? I have no idea.

Tell me about Boston's Finest, the pilot you just shot. I know you had a lot of offers this year, so how did you decide on this one?

You know, I found a show that in my mind has the right mix of character development and the ability to take you into a different world, but what I like about Boston's Finest is that there's a comic-book feel to it. At the same time, s**t blows up, and that's important in television, I think. If it's a cop show on television, I think that's what audiences want -- they're so visually stimulated now, and I think you have to make something visually beautiful and stunning that we haven't seen before.

When I sat down and saw that [director] Gary Fleder was involved, I realized that he could make something that was movie-stunning but be able to do it on a weekly basis. The risk of doing a pilot is that the network spends millions of dollars on a pilot and the audience falls in love with the show, and then the second episode happens and they're like, "What the hell happened to this TV show I fell in love with?" You have to be able to create something audiences can enjoy, but it has to be visually sustainable weekly. This seemed to be that, and I really like this character. She's multi-layered and screwed up...she's a very complicated person.

It's a funny thing, signing on for a pilot: You have
to prepare for the possibility that this show could become your life for the next several years, but at the same time, it's entirely possible it'll never advance beyond the pilot stage. You had an NBC pilot last year that didn't go to series...how do you invest yourself in a pilot when the future beyond it is so uncertain?

I invest myself as much as I can on-set, for sure, and as far as the show getting picked up, my heart's not in it either way. I think that because of the way I look at this as a job, I'm able to step back and see the positives and negatives of it going either way. When I can't think that, I have parents who remind me of that, and I have moments where I freak out. [Laughs] The hardest part is just sitting there waiting. That's the worst part.

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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...