While many actors fear being typecast after starring in a big sci-fi show, actress Katee Sackhoff has never tried to shake her geek cred in the six years since she last smoked a cigar as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica. If anything, she’s embraced her nerd life, with roles in the movie Riddick, the ‘toons Futurama and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and such games as Spider-Man: Edge of Time.
Her latest geeky project is as the voice and face of Sarah Hall, a soldier in the new Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Though in talking to her about this gig—as well as a certain foul-mouthed resident of Pastryville—it’s clear this isn’t a case of an actor protecting their brand, but a self-confessed dork being herself. And trying to impress her boyfriend’s kids, of course.
Playboy: I’m sure, like most of your jobs, you got the role in Call of Duty: Black Ops III because their people called your people, and they did lunch. But what was it about the game that made you want to do it?
Katee Sackhoff: In my mind, when people talk about video games that everybody knows, that everybody’s played even if they’re not gamers, it’s Call of Duty. My brother plays, my nephew plays, I’ve played, my boyfriend’s kids play. So when it came up, I was like, “Absolutely. When do you want me to show up?”
It’s made me the coolest dad’s girlfriend ever.
How familiar were you with the Black Ops games?
Only in passing, really. I asked my brother about it, and he gave me the whole rundown on the different games.
What I loved about this game, and the script they sent me, is that there was so much emotion in the game and in my character because of the sense of loss and being manipulated and lied to. That was really interesting to me. My character cries. And she’s tough. So it had a lot more heart and emotion, which was incredibly exciting.
You’re not just doing a voice in the game, though. The character also looks like you. Did this make the role more or less appealing?
Oh, more. C'mon, who doesn’t want their face in a video game? That’s the coolest thing ever. Maybe I’m just a total dork, which has already been proven, but that is really cool. It’s kind of like being a rock in Star Wars. Just being in it is such a cool thing.
Though when they sent me the scans of my character for my approval, I was like, “Guys, she’s so manly.” And they were like, “Well, she’s a soldier, Katee. Do you want her to be wearing lipstick and stuff?” “Well, it is my face, and I do want to look cute.” But then I was like, “Wait a second….”
As someone who’s familiar with video games, and the way women look in them, were you at all worried that they might oversexualize you with huge boobs and a big ol’ butt?
Ha! No. The big ol’ butt? This girl’s got a booty, anyway. As for the big boobs, mine are a good size, I don’t think I’d be too worried unless they gave me Dolly Parton boobs.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is not the first game you’ve done, or the only game you’re doing. You were a marine in Halo 3 and Black Cat 2099 in Spider-Man: Edge of Time, and you have a role in the upcoming virtual reality game EVE: Valkyrie. What is it about doing voices for games that you enjoy?
There’s something great about being able to go to work, and to use your creativity and talent without the hoopla of sitting in hair and make-up, and not having to worry if you’ve got a zit or you’re puffy. You really don’t have to think about anything but the muscle that is your voice.
It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you spend five hours playing in an empty box that you imagine is a race car. It brings you back to that childlike state where you can go as big as you want and selling the emotion and the character with your voice.
So at any point in the Call of Duty: Black Ops III sessions were you tempted to yell “BLAM!” like Bitch Pudding? Or maybe do her “DUN DUN DUN DUN!” fanfare? Because that would totally work in this game.
Ha! Can you imagine if I shot somebody in the game and I was like, “BLAM BITCHES!” That would be awesome.
That character…that’s one of those things where you don’t really know how it happened. I went in to do Starbuck’s voice, and Seth [Green, Robot Chicken co-creator] was like, “Do you want to play any of these other characters?” And one was Bitch Pudding. So I was like, “Well, where do you want her to go?” “Well, she’s a ghetto white girl. But she’s also twelve. Or seven.” And I was like, “I don’t, I don't…I’m from Oregon, I don’t know how to do that.” But she’s got a life of her own at this point. There are Halloween costumes now. I may buy one just for shits and giggles.
The new season of Robot Chicken just started. Will we be seeing Bitch Pudding any time soon?
Absolutely. I recorded for about two hours while I was shooting Longmire last season. I also play a spider who’s kind of a prostitute, and Mrs. Buttersworth, who’s a pedophile. My voice was so sore from screaming at the top of my lungs that the next day that I sounded like a 1-900 operator.
As I mentioned, besides Call of Duty: Black Ops III, you’re also doing a voice for EVE: Valkyrie, which is a virtual reality game. What can you tell us, if anything, about your role in that game?
I play a character named Ran. She’s a pilot. But I can’t really say much. Though the confidentiality agreement for that game wasn’t nearly as bad as the one I signed when I went to go visit my boyfriend [Karl Urban] on the set of the new Star Trek movie. Or when I went to Marvel.
Speaking of which, your name has also been bandied about for the role of Captain Marvel. I know you can’t confirm if you’re in it, but can you confirm if you’re not in it?
Oh god, I’m so not doing it.
I was, at different points, offered different roles by Marvel, mostly for television. So I have taken meetings at Marvel. But since you can’t say anything, the internet just blows it out of proportion.
So, no one has approached me about Captain Marvel. But I don’t know if I’d even want to play Captain Marvel. I would much rather play a villain and be nasty. It’s more fun.
What about if they offered you the role of Black Cat in the next Spider-Man movie instead?
Oh, 100% I’d do that! I love playing characters who are multilayered and multidimensional and have a darkness to them, which makes them more realistic and more fun to play.
Finally, if someone want to make a game with you as the main character—and I don’t mean something like Katee Sackhoff: Pro Skater, but something where you’re the main character—what kind of game would you want it to be?
Y'know, it would be a cross between Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and some political thriller type conspiracy theory where you’re killing people and trying to save people. Something a bit thought provoking.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III will be released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on Nov. 6, the new season of Robot Chicken is airing Sunday nights at midnight on Adult Swim, and EVE: Valkyrie will be out on PS4 and PC next year.
Paul Semel has been writing about games (as well as music, movies, books, and other fun stuff) for over twenty years. You can find him online on his own site, paulsemel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel.
RELATED: The Gamers Next Door Play 'ZombiU’ with The Zombi Unicorn at The Playboy Mansion