The 1998 graduating class of Beaverton's Sunset High School got a shock a few years back when they flipped to the Sci-Fi Channel's critically acclaimed TV series Battlestar Galactica . That's when they spotted their former classmate Katee Sackhoff spitting, screwing and kicking ass as the hard-drinking, roguish pilot Captain Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. Recently the actress, who lives in L.A., has switched gears to portray the villainous cyborg Sarah Corvus in NBC's new rehash of Bionic Woman . The ultimate object of geek desire took a break from shooting both Bionic and BSG Season 4 in Vancouver, B.C., to tell WW high-school horror stories and come clean about bionic boobs.
WW : What are you doing right now?
Katee Sackhoff: I'm just sitting at home watching Transformers .
You mentioned in an interview with the Seattle P.I. that fans are often intimidated by you. Like Starbuck is going to kick their asses if they say hi. Has that gotten worse now that you play the big, bad, bionic Corvus?
It's funny. People take my job too seriously. [Laughs] It depends. There are definitely people out there who look at me like I might be crazy!
What's the toughest thing about playing a strong female character? Is there a lot of pressure involved with that?
I think the most pressure that any woman gets in this business is body image. It's just huge. When you're playing a character that's stronger, you're given a little bit more leeway to be able to eat burgers every once in a while. That's definitely the biggest challenge—just to stay in physical shape. And it's difficult for me, because I like to eat.
What would you say your biggest mistake, personally or professionally, has been?
I think starting smoking was a huge mistake. And I think being mean to my brother growing up was the one thing I wish I could take back. It took years to become friends with my brother just because of how mean I was! I think that's the biggest mistake I've made.
You quit smoking between filming seasons 2 and 3 of Battlestar , right?
Yes, I did.
In the pilot for Bionic Woman you smoke and say it doesn't matter because there are tiny machines in your blood that filter all the impurities. Do you wish you could have something like that?
Of course I do! I think that it would be pretty amazing if all those impurities in our bodies got filtered out. There'd be no cancer, no disease. It would be fantastic. You know, I smoked for 10 years. I'm always a little worried about what I've done to myself!
If you could have a bionic power in L.A., what would it be?
[Laughs] You know, I think it would be just to run really fast and not have to sit in traffic.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I'm pretty much an open book. I think the biggest misconception is that I'm like Starbuck...I'm completely unlike her. I wear heels and makeup every day. I'm more like Sarah Corvus in that way. People are really disappointed when they find out I don't run around in fatigues.
Did you know Lindsay Wagner, the original Bionic Woman , went to high school in the Portland area, too?
Yeah, I think she lives in Lake Oswego. [Actually Wagner is following Sackhoff, the original Bionic Woman new lives in L.A.]
Did you guys ever cross paths? Did she give you any Bionic Woman- ly advice?
No. I've never met Lindsay. I always wanted to lie down on one of her beds, though [Wagner appears in TV ads for Sleep Number beds]. They look really comfortable. [Yawns] I could use one!
So, what can you tell me about the future of Starbuck? Got any minor spoilers for me?
I got nothin' for ya! They won't tell us anything. And they won't even give us copies of the DVDs this year. We're all left in the dark. At this point we're just trying to rule on if she's a Cylon or not.
Who was more fun to fight: Number Six [Tricia Helfer from Battlestar ] or Jaime Sommers [Michelle Ryan from Bionic Woman ]?
Tricia was more fun to fight, because we have so much fun doing it. Tricia's a really, really good friend of mine, so it's really interesting to go to work and beat up someone you do nothing but laugh with.
A couple of buddies of mine went to high school with you.
Oh! Tell them I'm sorry!
I don't know if you remember Nathan Moomaw, but he says you were pretty much a member of the "non-geek" crowd.
I don't know if that's true. I was a total geek for the last two years at school. Yeah, I was a total bitch the first two years, and then it kinda bit me in the ass and I decided to spend the last two years of high school trying to make everyone forgive me. I can't believe how much of an ass I was the first two years! I kind of left high school on interesting terms, just trying to get the hell out.
Nathan, now a Chicago based recording engineer and musician, wants to know if it's weird these days being such a geek goddess.
No, not at all! I grew up watching sci-fi. If I wasn't a geek in high school, I was a closet geek. And I grew up watching Star Trek . My dad had us watching every new sci-fi. And here I am watching Transformers . I've also learned that geeks are the most loyal. My brother and my dad are geeks, and they're both loyal!
A researcher friend of my named Eliot went to middle school with you. He says you were squirmy about worms and bugs. What would you say your biggest fear is now?
I've never been scared of worms! I ate a worm when I was 5! Come on, things don't really gross me out. I fish with my boyfriend, and I just learned how to rip the skin off a wahoo when you catch it. It's the coolest thing ever! But I'm terrified of bees. I sprint away from them as fast as I possibly can, because I'm allergic to them. And I'm scared of that EpiPen! I don't know what's worse: getting stung and dying or having given yourself a shot!
I have to ask: In the Bionic pilot, Sarah Corvus mentions that she augmented her chest. That's not autobiographical, is it?
No! And my boyfriend always makes fun of it and says I have a bionic chest. We're trying to figure it out—what actual part of her chest is bionic. We keep joking it's her boobs, but we have no idea. And they never mention it again! That's one for the writers. They'll probably figure it out at some point.
What would you tell other actors following your path?
Never let anyone tell you that you can't do it, but make sure you grow a thick skin. Because everyone will tell you that you can't. Especially growing up in Oregon.
So, you don't miss the Portland rain?
I don't miss Oregon at all. I wish I could say that I did. I like the faster pace of living in California. Oregon's beautiful, though. I miss that.
airs 9 pm Wednesday on NBC.
Season 4 airs on the Sci-Fi Channel in January 2008. And no, not even the Cylons have a clue when
Season 3 will be available on DVD, sorry.