IGN TV: You've got a really fascinating part here. What was the audition process like?
Alessandra Torresani: They didn't give me the script at first, so I went into casting, directors and everything, and [it was] not a cold read, but just a script, and I just knew there was me, the regular girl, and then this avatar. At the time, we knew what an avatar was, but you know, you read a script and then suddenly you're talking to yourself. You're like, "Ehhh, this is a little weird." So it was very confusing to me, but it immediately hit me, as if I was born to do this. I just thought, "You know what? This avatar, Zoe, is a child. Everything's brand new." And that's how I treated her. She doesn't realize she can talk, and then she learns to talk; you'll see that in a couple flashbacks. You'll see how she first learns to walk; it's like she's a child.
IGN: Is it interesting for you now, knowing that is the future of your world and pondering what role your character plays in that?
Torresani: Yeah, obviously, I'm the reason why Caprica died. I can't think about that right now, because I'm just thinking about the birth of the Cylon and how it's still just a 16-year-old girl stuck in a 7-foot robot body.
IGN: That is a fascinating aspect of the show. I was talking to David Eick earlier and saying how you hear "16-year-old girl trapped inside a killer robot" and it could come off really goofy, but it doesn't. The second episode establishes the technique where we see the Cylon the characters see and then cut to you, Zoe, trapped inside, watching what's going on. What's it like playing those scenes where you are the robot? You don't have any dialogue, obviously; so it's a lot of reactive stuff.
Torresani: It's really hard to show emotion without saying a word. I do this huge scene with Eric [Stoltz] and Paula [Malcomson], and Paula's just emotional and crying to Eric that her daughter's gone. And I'm there and I have to watch this and not be able to talk and not be able to touch, and it just has to be all in my eyes. And that was very difficult, because, are you kidding me, if I was the daughter and I saw my parents and I hadn't seen them and I'm stuck in this body I would wanna grab them and have them hold me. And that's what so sad about the whole character; that's a whole other aspect of it.
IGN: I've watched the first three episodes, and there are some moments where you, as the Cylon, get to show off your strength. Have you gotten to do a surprising amount of action in the series?
Torresani: I'm a blackbelt in tae kwon do, so it was funny, because when I did the show they didn't know that, and then slowly as this got picked up, I was like, "By the way, I'm really good at kicking butt. Really good." And I've always wanted to. You look at Jessica Alba in Sin City and all these girls, and you're like, "I can do that! I'm better! I want some action stuff!" And so they found that out, and they actually wrote a bunch of stuff of me getting in girl fights and kicking and roundoffs and this and that.
IGN: Can you hint at all about where the story is gonna go?
Torresani: I play five characters. I have lots of guns. I wear red lipstick. I can go back and forth from different worlds. That's about all I can say. I wear really cool heels!
IGN: You have two wonderful actors playing your parents. What's it like to work with them?
Torresani: Gosh, it's absolutely brilliant. It's great. I mean, Eric Stoltz; I don't even need to say anything on that. He's just phenomenal. And the fact that he got to direct an episode is just great, because he's the ultimate actor's director. He gets it, and he really, truly acts as the father of our show, on and off screen. And then Paula's just a riot. She's just genius at what she does, and when she gets in that role, she is in that role. You're like, is this Amanda Graystone I'm talking to or is this Paula Malcomson? It's inspiring. It really makes want to try extremely hard to impress them as well as myself and the fans.
Torresani: I didn't even know how intense it was until after. Like, that character went throughout the whole season [after I was gone]. Yeah, that was a crazy character. I don't think I've ever had to commit suicide on a show.
IGN: That's what surprised me - that they didn't stop her from killing herself.
Torresani: It was a really deep character without even saying a lot. There was a lot going on there. That was a fun show. That was really fun. People always say, "Oh, don't you wish you had stayed on longer?" But, you know what, I'd rather do a quality character than quantity, and I'd rather have this one-episode arc that's so intense that continues on the show than some bulls**t, stupid, "I'm in a hundred episodes but I play a stupid character." I'd rather something with depth. I never knew how many people would actually recognize me from that, but it was sci-fi. But I didn't realize how huge that show actually was.
IGN: With that and now Caprica, has it given you a new perception of science fiction?
Torresani: I love it. I think it's so deep and so now. People say, "Oh, it's science fiction, it's crazy." but, you know, it's really not. We're 20 years away, if that. Ten years away from having Cylons walking this Earth. Honestly, we are. We're very close, and I think it's great. -- IGN
I'm now three episodes into the show, and I'm surprised by how closely these episodes snap together. Clearly this was an intention, to go deep into these characters and to interweave the episodes – how did you decide that this is the direction you wanted to go after BSG?
It was really an unusual beginning to the process. Both Ron and I had done self-contained series before, Ron had done the Star Trek shows, and I had done the Hercules universe and it was in about the second season of BSG where we started to decide whether or not there was another story to be derived or hatched from this world that we were deeply immersed in. We knew we didn't want to have some sort of continuation of the story, where you'd have some paraplegic commander, some speed freak, in command this time. We debated doing another thing entirely, a Buck Rogers show that would take place in contemporary society and have an artificial person coping with reality.
Then we started looking at the big picture of something we had been discussing, about how many of the BSG episodes were self-contained versus ongoing threads. By the end of the series, I think by the beginning of the fourth season, the episodes were all essentially serialized. And they were great. And so we started talking about moving forward with something that was unapologetically a serial sci-fi soap opera, that from the beginning would be designed to be that sort of animal – free from all the responsibilities or obligations to carry through the artifice of having a beginning, middle or an end.
So once you knew you wanted to go serialized, how did you decide that Caprica would almost follow the likes of A.I. or Blade Runner, in dealing primarily with these issues of artificial intelligence, and this blurring line between computers and humanity?
Well we wanted to go broader, beyond Battlestar, and we thought wouldn't it be great if we went backwards and if we did a prequel that didn't in any way require knowledge of Battlestar. If it had no baggage. And you could still trade on those mythological strands, but now explore and tell stories in a completely different way. What was so unorthodox is that we pitched this to the studio in general terms and they said, ‘Wow, that's really interesting,' and then Remi Aubuchon, this successful television writer, approached them separately with this idea that was dealing with artificial intelligence and the creation of a sentient life. And they said, ‘ Wow, you should call Ron and David and put your heads together, you're all smoking out the same crack pipe.' And we met with him and it was this rare occasion where we had the foresight to put this all together.
It's interesting, though, how you use the notion of artificial intelligence here. It's not just for the sake of something flashy or high-tech, but there's a lot of emotional turmoil that's unleashed by this…
Well, we had thought of Caprica as replacing what oil is in our time with artificial intelligence – this resource that changes everything. And what we actually had a lot of discussions about was Frankenstein, about this need of one man to create life at any expense. And in that story, you have a brilliant man who goes mad with the implications of what he's done. Now imagine that taken to whole new level of moral questioning, when you're talking about the man's own daughter. That level of moral questioning almost runs the risk of a potential break with your own sanity, when you face what you're really trying to do, to bring back a replica of your daughter. -- Techland