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'Caprica' countdown: Talking to Alessandra Torresani about the birth of the Cylons

January 13, 2010 | 12:59 pm

It's not "Battlestar Galactica." Let's get that straight right now. The tone of Syfy's prequel series "Caprica" may not be as stifling or on edge as life was with Starbuck, Apollo, Boomer and the rest. There's a thriving planetary structure of 12 colonies out there, and that's plenty different enough. To help you get caught up on the show's mythology, we'll be doing a daily countdown until the Jan. 22 premiere of "Caprica" on Syfy, including a description of one of the colonies/worlds with each countdown post.

Alessandra One planet mentioned early on in the series is Gemenon. A mountainous desert with stretches of plateau, Gemenon is best known for its religious fervor. Its mainstream culture is polytheistic, and ruled by a "democratic" theocracy. But it is also the cradle of monotheism among the colonies, spawning radical and extremist groups such as Soldiers of The One. It's that group that setS off the explosion that kills the people that begins the end. (Watch the pilot episode here.)

The character of Zoe Graystone,played by Alessandra Torresani, is a radical who becomes the catalyst for the eventual destruction of the 12 colonies. Torresani is about to trek Runyon Canyon when we talk -- a very L.A. thing to do for the local actress, who has been transplanted to Vancouver, Canada, for the show. It's a very big role for the actress, who says she got it by keeping it "old school": She just auditioned.

As Zoe Graystone, viewers don't get to bond a whole lot with you in the pilot for obvious, explosive reasons. How will we really get to know her?
Well I play five different people from the pilot to the season finale -- which I'm assuming five 'cause it may be more, I mean, we haven't shot the season finale or seen the script yet. So, yeah, you'll see, literally, five different young, 15-year-old girls.

I spoke to Eliza Dushku ("Dollhouse") about playing different characters on a show. Is each one of the roles you play a different personality at all?
They're all based on the same idea, but they're all very, very different. People will definitely know the differences between them all.

Was there a favorite?
Hmmm ... I don't know. Probably the robot cause she's a kick-ass [character]!

With Taurons, Capricans and such helping bridge the mythology of the "Battlestar Galactica" universe, did you feel any pressure?
Not so much. Yeah we're following in their footsteps, but we're a completely different show and we're a different style of show. We're not battleships fighting each other running away from the Cylons. Yeah, you want to keep all of their fans, and you want more, but you can't guarantee that. We're our own show -- it's fresh and new and we're going to base it on a completely new idea.

What do you think about the Cylon technology itself?  Are we going that way as a society?
Absolutely! I'm convinced that Ron Moore is actually an alien and he knows these ideas already -- what's going to happen. He's just giving us little hints and little clues. I absolutely think so, I mean, why not?

Wow.  Well, would you be into it?  Would you do it, especially knowing what could possibly happen as a result?
Oh yeah, I'm a science nerd. I love this.

So you watched a lot of sci-fi and "Battlestar" before you got the role?
I never saw "Battlestar" before, but I watched it after we shot our pilot because I wanted the first Cylon to be completely different than how Tricia [Helfer] portrayed it or Grace [Park] or any of the girls. I watched it and became completely obsessed. But yeah, I'm into "Star Trek" and stuff ... I'm more into "Aliens," but yeah it's all fun!

Caprica_KEY Have you done the conventions and appearances yet?  I know the show hasn't really gotten going yet, but ..
Oh yeah. I've been advertising this show for so long now. I feel like no one else has but me ... but I love it! I love going to the conventions. They're so much fun, and now I feel like I have friends out there. They're so nice.

So no weird stories yet?
There was one weirdo who had sexual innuendos and stuff, but he was fun too. It was still just so cool.

Speaking of sexuality ... that poster.
Yeah, the one I'm naked on?!

Exactly.  Definitely meant as an homage to Eve.
Absolutely. A complete homage to Eve.

And what do you think about that?
I love it. I'm on a 10-story building, naked, with just an apple. It's every girl's fantasy! It's cool. I love being naked. I'm a free spirit.

You seem prepared for whatever happens. Without being too spoilery, has there been anything that came up during shooting that just really threw you for a loop?
Yeah. I didn't realized that I was going to be a robot and have others able to see me. They told me how they were going to do it [make her robotic voice, etc.] and it was new and interesting and cool. And then there've been some things that just made me go 'Wow.  Am I really going to put myself in these kinds of situations?'

How has it been working with Ron Moore the alien, and on the set in general?
We have the same crew as "Battlestar," so that's really fun and they make things really exciting for us. It's just been awesome. It's nonstop jokes 24/7. Ron's really such a genius, though.

-- Jevon Phillips

Photos: Alessandra Torresani as Zoe Graystone. Credit: Syfy

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