The Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica got a head start with the 90 minute pilot. Now series creator and producer Ron Moore is at work developing the weekly series. We caught up with him several times, before the pilot aired, at its Paleyfest premiere and on the grey carpet at the Envelope series panel when he was close to shooting the first season of Caprica.
Crave Online: What’s the status of Caprica?
Ron Moore: We don’t start shooting until mid-July. We’ll have probably half the season written by that point so we’re in pretty good shape.
Crave Online: How much free territory is there within where it has to end up?
Ron Moore: There were hints and suggestions of things throughout Battlestar but in terms of specific history of the colonies and what happened before the first cylon war and how the cylons were invented, we really didn’t deal with any of that in the show so it’s a pretty wide open canvas.
Crave Online: Any chance we could see Tricia Helfer as an early version of Six?
Ron Moore: Well, you never say never but we don’t have any plans for that at the moment.
Crave Online: Is developing Caprica a different animal than BSG?
Ron Moore: It is different. The intentions are different and conceptually, the show is different. We’re not trying to emulate Battlestar really in any way. It really has to stand on its own and have its own sort of rhythm, its own style of storytelling. It’s not going to be quite as heavy and dark as Battlestar was because of its very nature. It’s pre-Apocalyptic as opposed to post-Apocalyptic. This is a vibrant still thriving world that’s headed for disaster but none of them know that, so the whole tenor of the show is very different.
Crave Online: Has it changed a lot from the pilot movie?
Ron Moore: Yeah. The pilot’s a very specific story and then from that story, we’ve really expanded outward and brought some details that are surprising to some of the characters. Some things that we didn’t even hint about in the pilot, you then discover oh my God, that’s who that character really is, or that’s a different part of their character I didn’t suspect existed. Others we double back and you’re like oh, I thought they were going this direction. They’re actually going that direction. There was an effort to sort of change up the game a lot as we went into the series.
Crave Online: Will we see more between the fathers?
Ron Moore: Yeah, right now they’re on very different tracks and going in different directions. Neither of them really thinks that they’re going to go back and revisit anything that happened in the pilot. Very quickly, it’s going to become obvious to both of them that actually none of that is yesterday’s news yet and their paths will cross again. In some situations, violently so.
Crave Online: What’s going on with Zoe?
Ron Moore: Well, she’s trapped in a robot which is a great place to put a 16-year-old girl. She’s going to struggle with what does she do next? A, can she get out of this body? Where would she go? Does she go back to the virtual world? Is that where she wants to be? What are they going to be doing to the robot as they try to develop the rest of the cylons? Can she keep her father from finding out that she’s in there? Does she want her father to find out that she’s in there? I think there’s a lot of questions that Zoe has to tackle in the first couple episodes before she decides what she wants to do.
Crave Online: Will we revisit the virtual world?
Ron Moore: Oh yeah. There’s much more in the virtual world. The virtual world is very large and it exists both in sort of an officially approved Greystone industries copyrighted virtual gaming worlds that people go into. Then there’s the hacked world that we saw in the pilot which is sort of underground where kids made up their own worlds. The virtual world is very broad. It’s almost an infinite world of possibilities and sets and locations and ideas of what happens. We will be taking characters into different aspects of that world over the course of the series?
Crave Online: Where do we pick up Caprica as the season begins?
Ron Moore: Well, the place where we pick up Caprica is that Caprica is just one of 12 colonies, all of which tend to have a relationship with one another but tend to war with each other now and again. It’s not a unified nation state so much as it is 12 colonies that have squabbles but trade among each other. The cylons represent sort of a breakthrough in technology on Caprica but the Vergis company is certainly on the same path on Tauron. There’s probably a couple other places of high technology that exist in 12 colonies, but essentially they’re all on the cusp of this breakthrough.
Crave Online: What happened on Cobol?
Ron Moore: Well, there once was paradise which was called Cobol. Essentially, the gods and man lived as one in paradise, which is the central creation myth of western civilization. It was paradise, there was a fall and we mortals exist after that. This is essentially our parable. On Cobol, once upon a time, man and the gods lived as one. Man stole fire from the Gods which in our case is the secret of A.I. Humans invented the first cylons on Cobol and somehow that broke paradise and 12 tribes went thataway. The 13th tribe of cylon went that way. That’s essentially the creation myth as we know it.
Ron Moore: We talked about that. I think we’re going to try real hard to resist that. You never know. You never say never. Things change. You get into stories that suddenly you’re in love with.
Crave Online: Could we se any flash forwards?
Ron Moore: There’s no plans to. The intention of Caprica is to make it really its own show. It was really important to us as we created the show to create something that did not mean that you had to be a fan of Battlestar Galactica, that here’s a series that stands on its own, that’s part of this larger universe but is not predicated on a knowledge of or love of the original. That was very important to us. It plays as here’s a piece. If you don’t know anything about Battlestar Galactica, you can invest in this, these characters and their story. If you know Battlestar, you’re going to love it for all kinds of other reasons and you’ll see a greater depth to it, but the idea was not to really connect it.
Crave Online: Is there a Caprica mandate going into the series?
Ron Moore: I think the mandate in a lot of ways is the same which was to try to do something new and try to do something different and try to break the mold of what had gone before. I think our challenge in Caprica is to now break the mold of Battlestar. We’re going to take the risk with the audience. We’re going to say to the audience, “We know you love this. We know you’re invested in this and we salute you for it. Okay, now here’s something literally completely different.” We’re going to lose some people in that translation but we’re going to gain other people.
Crave Online: Will Caprica be a standalone stories if you haven’t seen BSG?
Ron Moore: It’s more of a serialized show. Losing the action/adventure component was a risk and that’s a risk we took knowingly. It’s more serialized than Battelstar was and its an investment in these people. I’m fascinated by stories that are about people and characters. You either love these characters and you want to follow them every week and see what they do next, or you don’t. There’s no cylons coming in to destroy the Galactica every once in a while and the fate of humanity doesn’t hang in the balance yet. You’re really living and dying on the audience’s affection and interest in these people.
Crave Online: What are the challenges of exploring Adama as a kid?
Ron Moore: I think the challenge of the Adama relationship is to really make it an unexpected journey. The most unsatisfying thing would be to start telling stories about Joseph Adama and go, “Well, obviously, of course, A leads to B leads to C and this is how he becomes Admiral Adama.” I think the fun of that character and the relationship and that story, is to not understand how you got from A to be because I don’t think any of our lives are linear. I don’t think people really set out from here clearly and obviously end up there. That’s going to be the fun of this series is sort of saying, “Really? This is how Adama got to be the admiral?”
Crave Online: Why do a prequel at all?
Ron Moore: David and I already sort of discussed, well, the way we are going to end "Battlestar Galactica" doesn’t really hold itself open for another story. We’re going to end the Galactica tale with sort of a period at the end of the sentence. And then we said, well, what is it? You could do the First Cylon War, which is part of our backstory, but then it’s just another war story, and we felt like we had covered that ground. and when Remi [Aubuchon]’s idea came in and we sat down in the room and started discussing it, I think is when we started to really realize that it was a great possibility to do a different kind of series.
Crave Online: How did you settle on 51 years as the era before?
Ron Moore: For those of you steeped into Battlestar mythos, at the time of the miniseries, we had said that no one had seen or heard from the Cylons in 40 years and that we had kind of said that the First Cylon War, we never nailed down exactly how many years it was, but it was a multi-year conflict. So this gives us a little more of a cushion and sort of still be expansive on exactly how long the initial war took place. And we were also locked into the idea of we wanted William Adama to be a character in this piece, albeit a boy. With his age and doing math, which is not one of our strengths, we came up with 51 years.
Crave Online: Will there be some space flight between the 12 colonies?
Ron Moore: I’d say it’s predominantly going to be urban city. I mean, they have space flight. They will refer to space flight. There’s commerce between the planets. There’s wars between the planets. There’s relations. We make references to the other planets within the pilot, but that’s just not where the show lives. The show lives on Caprica. The show lives in the city and with the characters that are there. It’s going to be sort of like a contemporary drama. If you set another series in San Francisco, most of the action’s going to be there but it doesn’t mean the character can’t fly to Hawaii or someone can’t come in from London or you might have a reason to play the scene on the 747 when they’re flying someplace. And we’ll treat this show pretty much the same way.
Crave Online: Were there any revelations you had to take out of Battlestar Galactica because you now need to save them for Caprica?
Ron Moore: No. Actually, I can say with relative confidence that just about all the questions that are raised and mysteries that are in Battlestar are answered in Battlestar by the end of the series. And I don’t think we ever really had any conversations about, oh, OK, here’s a secret that we want to hold for Caprica, that we were going to do in Battlestar. We really have kind of separated them out in the mythos, and there’s really nothing in Battlestar that has to be held for Caprica or vice versa.