Millions of sci-fi fans around the world know the face, and voice, of Katee Sackhoff from her roles as Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica and Bo-Katan in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Gamers have heard Sackhoff in games like Halo 3 and Resistance 3 and she’ll be starring in CCP Games’ PlayStation 4 and PC virtual reality game, EVE Valkyrie. Sackhoff doesn’t play as much as she used to, but she keeps an original Atari 2600 in her trailer…for when the mood strikes.
What are some favorite memories from playing video games when you were younger?
Growing up my parents owned a pizza parlor. Every night and after school and after swim practice — when one of my mother’s students couldn’t be bribed into babysitting — we were plopped at a table with pizza and given a roll of quarters. After we were done with our homework, we’d just play video games for hours. My brother and I grew up in an arcade basically, so we have fond memories of every single game that you can possibly imagine. But one of my favorite things was sitting at the Ms. Pac-Man table and eating my pizza because I convinced my mother I was actually doing my homework and I’d be playing. That still is one of my favorite games and I have every intention of owning the game at one point.
You can play that game now on your smartphone.
Yeah, but see I can’t. I’m a purist. I can’t play Ms. Pac-man if I’m not sitting at the table.
And you need the joystick, right?
I need it. Yeah, absolutely. I have an old-school Atari, dude. I’m still playing that thing. Usually it sits in my trailer so whenever I’m severely bored I can play a game of Asteroids, which with a joystick is really not easy. It’s an incredibly difficult game. We’ve gotten so spoiled with controllers today, but it’s incredibly difficult to maneuver with a joystick because it’s so sensitive and all of a sudden you’re like, “I didn’t mean to go left. Why am I going left?”
The funny thing is like you could get an Xbox disc that has every Atari 2600 Activision game ever made on it.
And I should know this because Jeff Henshaw, one of the creators of Xbox, is a very close friend of mine. As soon as he sends me the Xbox disc with all of my Atari games, I might retire my Atari, but until then the fact that it’s still working is pretty impressive.
Do you think virtual reality will pull you away from Atari 2600 or are you just going to wait for them to do an Asteroids Oculus Rift game?
I want them to do a movie about Asteroids and I want to be in it. I think it would be amazing.
At one point it was optioned by Hollywood, but I don’t think it ever went anywhere.
There’s only so much you can do with an old property. Unless you’re going to be true to them, it’s really hard — Battleship anyone? It’s really hard to take old games and translate them into something that not only people want to watch, but that kids today want to watch. Because let’s be honest, we’re making movies for 14 year olds. So they need to be something that kids today actually give a shit about. They didn’t know anything about John Carter. Then again, nobody knew Guardians of the Galaxy.
Having worked in the Halo universe and now working on the Oculus Rift game, EVE: Valkyrie, what are your thoughts about the fact that a lot of games now use performance capture and are opening up new opportunities for actors to star in these virtual worlds?
Performance capture is amazing, by the way, and I think that it’s a natural transition for an actor to want to voice in this world, and then also be a part of it. Some of the biggest dorks — and I use that word with more love than anything in the world because I am marrying one — I know are actors. These are kids that grew up with so much imagination that we created worlds in our bedrooms and then became actors. So it makes complete sense that we would transition into video games.
Having played Starbuck for so many years, have you ever played the Battlestar Galactica Online game?
I have not. Is that bad? Is it like really bad that I should have done that?
No, most people from the cast of the show that I’ve asked didn’t even know the game existed.
I didn’t even know it existed either, to be honest. I sort of knew that it did, but then I didn’t. Battlestar was a weird thing because it was like somebody, somewhere made more money than we all did because there’s like so was so much merchandizing. There’s even an amusement ride.
Considering you travel with an Atari 2600, how into modern technology are you today?
Oh, I hate it all. I do. I hate everything about modern technology. Granted, when I’m stranded on the side of the road it’s really nice to have cell phone reception, which doesn’t always happen in New Mexico. But I’m such a purist when it comes to things like that. I still want work with directors that shoot on film because I think it’s phenomenal, and I think it’s a dying breed. I think that cell phones suck and iPhones suck and all of it sucks, but I have it and I use it. You have to, right? I mean my car parks itself. What the fuck? Really. How about doing something that I need you to do? I can parallel-park myself. Yeah, I hit my rims. That’s fine. They look like shit, but I can parallel park myself. How about do the things I can’t do, like automatically change my oil for me? That would be nice. Let’s use the technology to actually do things that we need.
And yet they’re designing cars that will drive for us.
I just bought a Range Rover, and I’m absolutely obsessed with this car. I think it’s amazing. It just drives beautifully. It may break down every five seconds, but it drives really well. When it’s moving, it’s an awesome car. I haven’t had a problem with my 2014, so I’ll let you know. But driving home from the dealer I came to a stoplight and it shut off. I’m like, “Oh my God, I’ve got a lemon.” It’s fucking shutting off. So I called the guy at the store and he said, “Yeah, that’s to save gas. It automatically shuts off at stoplights for a minute.” That’s amazing, but the only question I have is it really a good thing for the starter to stop and start 50 times a day. So I’ll let you know if I need a new starter in a year.
Having taken the Ice Bucket Challenge yourself, what are your thoughts on the power of social media?
Someone said to me the other day that this is bullshit and celebrities are just being assholes and jumping on a bandwagon. You can say that all you want and it very well may be the truth, but the fact is that at the same time last year during this time period only like $1.5 million was raised and now we’ve seen over $41 million raised. So regardless of whether people were jumping on the bandwagon and you hate the celebrity who’s doing it or whatever, you can’t argue with the results.