SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to watch last night’s 24, stop reading now. I repeat, if you have yet to watch last night’s 24, stop reading now. For the last time, if you have yet to watch last night’s 24, stop reading now. Everyone else, onward and downward…
24 fans who were counting the minutes until Katee Sackhoff’s CTU analyst/mole, Dana Walsh, was wiped off the face of the earth can start celebrating: The double-crossing evildoer found herself on the wrong end of Jack Bauer’s pistol in last night’s pulse-pounding episode. Her death brings to end one of the show’s most ridiculed story arcs since Kim Bauer’s took a detour to cougar town in season 2. But what did Sackhoff think of the tall tale and the backlash it triggered? In the following exclusive interview, the Battlestar Galactica superstar tackles that question and about 10 others with such hilarious candor that she practically redeemed the whole damn storyline!
Dana just got killed. Reaction?
KATEE SACKHOFF: That’s so sad. Poor Dana.
Do you genuinely feel sympathy for her?
SACKHOFF: None whatsoever. [Laughs]. She doesn’t have one redeeming quality. I tried desperately to give her a redeeming quality. I really tried. The only thing I could come up with was that she didn’t crack when she was tortured.
What was it like playing someone like that?
SACKHOFF: It was weird. I kind of figured if I couldn’t give her a redeeming quality, I was just going to be the most ridiculously unsympathetic villain ever. I was going to try and make everyone hate her. That was my goal, and I think I succeeded.
Were you looking to play a one-note baddie when you signed on?
SACKHOFF: [Before 24] I always had to give tons of thought to my characters. They had so many layers and they were exhausting to play. By the time [Battlestar] was over I was so tired. I was like, “Can I please play a character that’s just cut and dry?” [Laughs] With Dana, I just kind of went to work and played what was on the page. It was a much easier process.
The Dana plot was not well-received. Were you aware that it wasn’t going over well?
SACKHOFF: I didn’t realize that. [Pause] I don’t care. I played a character [Starbuck] who was hated from the very beginning just because she was a woman, so I learned a long time ago not to read [the feedback]. It’s counterproductive to doing your job… I respect the fans and I respect their opinions but it’s sad that they’re not happy when it’s the last season.
Was there anything Dana did that made you go, “WTF?”?
SACKHOFF: I think when I had a gun and [onscreen hubby] Freddie [Prinze Jr.] shot it for me. I was like, “Wow, I’m completely playing a new character here.” For the first five or six episodes I was like, “Guys, you’ve got to give me a gun. I don’t do the whole stand here and look pretty thing very well.” And then they finally give me a gun and the man standing next to me shot it for me.
Did you object?
SACKHOFF: Of course I did. But then I was told I was a Russian spy and I was like, “Okay, I get it.”
I thought you were going to say hiding Bill Prady’s dead body in the wall at CTU was the craziest thing Dana did.
SACKHOFF: [Mock contempt] Where else was she going to put it?! Was she going to drag it down the hallway? She had to figure out something really quick, and the grate in the wall seemed like a perfect place. The only thing we were joking about was can you imagine when they start turning the heat on in the winter? Six months later everyone’s like, “What is that smell?!” And they’re like, “Damn that Dana!” [Laughs]
How was the whole 24 experience?
SACKHOFF: It was fantastic. Because of the way they shoot 24 you feel like you’re never there. I kind of felt like I could go hang out at Coffee Bean with all the unemployed actors. Every time I’d get a paycheck I was like, “Oh, that’s right. I have a job!” It was pretty easy compared to what I was used to. I’ve been so spoiled. I moved to L.A. when I was 17 and I constantly worked on television, so I’ve always been able to have, in a sense, a normal job where you go to work every day. And after Battlestar ended and [my NBC] pilot [Lost & Found] wasn’t picked up I got completely disillusioned by the business. I had never done a pilot that hadn’t been picked up, so I was like, “What?!” So I wanted to go back to something that felt safe and exciting and well-received, and 24 was a perfect fit. It’s what I needed to get my footing and go tackle another pilot season.
Why did you have so much time off? It’s not like Dana disappeared for long stretches. Did you shoot all your scenes in one day?
SACKHOFF: Yeah, that’s what they do. And it’s not just one episode, it’s two episodes. I would shoot all my stuff for episodes 5 and 6, which would normally take 18 days, in one day. So I’d have off for three weeks. I think I had the whole month of November off.
Was that frustrating at all? Because it’s not like you can go off and commit to another gig.
SACKHOFF: It was frustrating. I felt unemployed. I had all my chores done by 9 a.m. and I’m like, “What do I do now?” I’d call up my ex-boyfriend at work and go, “It’s 9 a.m. and I’m done. Is it too early to start drinking at noon?”
For more from Sackhoff, including scoop on one of Dana’s most buzzed about quirks, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly (on sale Thursday). In other news, my May Sweeps Scorecard has been updated!