We had a chance to talk to Jamie Bamber about BSG, his successes, the media, and his brand new film John Doe: Vigilante.
TMS: It’s been about six years since Battlestar ended. How do you deal with the continued fandom? And are the fans still as rabid about the show as they were years ago?
JB: It’s a never ending source of pride and humility at the same time, that it's still loved. The greatest thing I can say is that many of the fans that I meet have only just started watching it. They’re in the middle of season three or season two. That’s the thing that is truly amazing. This isn’t just a tv show anymore. It’s a long story that’s being consumed in many different ways. I’m very proud that it’s got that kind of quality to it.
TMS: So with that, you’ve had a long history of successes on TV. Other than Battlestar have there been any other favorites for you to work on?
JB: Yeah, there sure have. My most favorite recently was a thing called The Smoke which I did in London. It’s only one season. It didn’t last beyond that. It was extraordinary…..the writing. A firefighter gets very badly injured and goes back to work at his precinct, tries to keep it together and it all fragments for reasons that are not necessarily his. And Horatio Hornblower because it introduced me to this world and business.
TMS: Who would you say influences you the most as an actor?
JB: Well, it depends on what you mean by influence. The reason why I do what I do and why I fell in love with acting is due to the theater. The people that I fell in love with in terms of their legacy in the theater, the classical greats, Laurence Olivier. I never saw him on stage but I read about his performances, his mystique and his prowess in terms of changing his physicality and his voice. I would say he’s an inspiration definitely. In recent years, someone like Daniel Day Lewis. You can’t help but be awestruck by his virtuosity.
TMS: I had a chance to watch John Doe last night. I’ve looked at the reviews. This thing is getting really good criticism across the board. It’s a very effective film. Was it hard dealing with the highly emotional and impactful subject matter?
JB: Yes, it is. It’s like an emotional workout of course. You put yourself in someone’s shoes who’s been on a very difficult and heart wrenching journey. You boiled it right down to the basic elements. The guy is an ordinary guy that’s had something dreadful happen to him.
As a parent myself, your imagination always just spites itself and goes to the worst case scenario in some situations in life. We've all vicariously had to go there and it’s not fun and it’s not pleasant as actor when you do it. But there is a catharsis about it….about exploring those dark places because at least there you’re doing it as an art form.
TMS: How do you think society would actually deal with something like this actually happening? Would it play out the same way it did in the movie?
JB: The media is largely about what the media makes of it, very specifically the new media we’re working within now. Obviously, it’s a cautionary tale. It’s the way things could happen but shouldn’t happen. We’ve amped it up a little so that people get the point. But I see it happening all the time. When you see awful things in current affairs, like the event in Florida. It ignited all sorts of factions in society, our sense of injustice, and our frustrations spilled out.
Unfortunately, they are distilled in the media into the base elements. We’re pitched against each other very very quickly. It’s black against white. It’s homeowner against street crime. There are shades of grey out there. No unfortunate event is ever as simple as the initial media response. But, the media deals in very consumable bullet points and often creates the drama where there is very little. We create entertainment. We create conflict in the news media today. That’s what this film is really about. The question is, can we see through the media and are we savvy enough to consume it in the right way?
TMS: Is there a difference between preparing yourself for a film like this and a TV role?
JB: Of course there is. The fundamental difference is with a movie script you have the whole story laid out for you in 105 pages. And it takes ninety minutes of screen time. So, you are able to prepare more thoroughly in any regard because you know the whole of the world is there written down. There’s a satisfaction in starting something and finishing it and knowing that’s the whole story. In television, you arguably get to make a few mistakes with a more sprawling tale which inevitably becomes more complex and maybe more interesting.
TMS: Where can people see John Doe: Vigilante?
CG: So say we all.