Ask any sci-fi fan about “Number Six” and the first thing that pops into their mind won’t be a number. Instead you’ll hear them wax rhapsodic about the seductive, dangerous and manipulative Cylon from “Battlestar Galactica” named Number Six, a role popularized by model and actress Tricia Helfer.
Helfer has long since moved on from Battlestar, playing special agents, lawyers, FBI agents and doing voice over work for video games. In her latest role, Helfer stars as Texas Ranger Molly Parker on ABC’s “Killer Women.” Recently I had a chance to talk to Ms. Helfer about her new series, her charity and even a little BSG. All while I was consistently coughing in her ear because of a cold.
Terry Terrones: Tell me about Killer Women. What about it drew you to the role of Molly Parker?
Tricia Helfer: When I first read the script I just loved the character immediately. I thought she was multi-layered – she’s strong, she’s smart, she’s tough but she’s also got a quirky and vulnerable side and she’s hiding a secret. She just seemed like a really fun character to play and I liked the script because it didn’t take itself too seriously. It’s light, it’s fun and it’s a bit stylized. It’s a procedural but it’s got a bit of cheekiness to it. I’ve come off some dark, heavy things so I was looking for something a little lighter and fun.
TT: Is that “cheekiness” something we’re going to see more of? It felt like it struggled to come across during the pilot.
TH: I said “cheekiness” because you’re right, it’s a little hard to put your finger on what the right word is. The one thing I think new shows struggle with is coming up with exactly the right tone. If you’re trying to have a procedural that is a little fun but has some heart to it, how much of each do you put in? I think throughout the season, as most shows normally do, it will find its flow.
TT: You bring up a good point. Sometimes with TV pilots, they’ll grab you right away and other times a show takes awhile to find its footing. I think there is humor in “Killer Women” but do you think people are missing that?
TH: I think that’s what we’re trying for. I saw someone compare it (“Killer Women”) to FX’s “The Bridge and I was thinking that all because two shows are set in similar locations doesn’t mean you can compare the two. I watch “The Bridge” and I love the show but it’s completely different. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. That show is extremely dark and serious and our show is not trying to be that at all. There’s some heart to it and there’s some serious issues – we talk about domestic violence and there’s action – but I’d agree with you that there’s so much on TV right now that it’s hard to survive long enough to have an audience find you that does get it and does enjoy it. So far I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from fans via Twitter who loved the first episode and can’t wait for the next episode. Hopefully we do find an audience who gets the quirkiness that we’re trying to put on it.
TT: For those who haven’t seen the show, tell them what they’re missing.
TH: I think it’s just a fun ride. There are strong female characters without being overly dramatic. Molly is a kick butt character. I think she’s relatable to women because she’s not just a one-note chick who’s tough and can take anybody. It’s not like she’s invincible. Sometimes we see a physically strong female character and it’s almost laughable how they can take anybody. We’re not playing Molly as if she’s infallible. And with the angle on the female killers, I think we have a unique take. I just think the show is different and there just isn’t anything else out there like it right now. And that can hurt us or it can help us, if it finds its audience. It’s just hard to place it in a category but I like that about it.
TT: Can a show be fun but also have a positive message about women in the workplace as well?
TH: I think so. But I don’t think the show is about beating people over the head about being a feminist or anything like that. I think it’s more about a cop procedural that’s trying to have a bit of fun and has a strong female character. I don’t think it’s about feminism as much because that’s going down a more serious path.
TT: Give us a teaser for the rest of the season. What can viewers expect the rest of the way?
TH: The first couple of episodes are a bit more on the procedural side. The relationships start getting delved into a bit more mid-season. You’ll see the ex-husband a bit more and Molly’s brother Billy, played by Michael Trucco, has a secret he’s dealing with and that’s going to really start to take center stage near the last episodes. By episode seven we find out what that is and by episode eight it’s really about what he’s gotten himself into as opposed to the “murder of the week” type thing. So the first part of the season is a bit more “murder of the week” and the second half is more about relationships.
TT: As you just mentioned, your former Battlestar co-star Michael Trucco is on the show and I know you’re good friends with another BSG alum, Katee Sackhoff. Is there any chance we’ll see her or any other BSG alums guest star on “Killer Women?”
TH: Not in the first season. For episode three both Michael and I recommended Katee for a role but she wasn’t available but we do have some other great guests coming in. If we went another season I’m sure some would pop up but in the first season we don’t have any other Battlestar actors.
TT: Speaking of BSG, chances are for the rest of your career you’re going to be associated with “Battlestar Galactica” and the role of Number Six. Is that a blessing, a curse or a little of both?
TH: I think it’s completely a blessing. It was my first series and I couldn’t have gotten luckier with the group of people I was able to work with. I think Battlestar is something that continues to live on because it continues to find a new generation of audiences and I think it is a show that will continue to do that. I don’t have anything bad to say about it because I don’t look like Number Six anymore. I mean Number Six is me but unless I dyed my hair platinum and walk around in a red dress I don’t even get recognized really from the show. I certainly don’t walk into a casting directors office and have them go, “You can’t play anything else other than a robot.” (laughing) and I’ve gone on to play lawyers, FBI agents, Texas Rangers, mothers and wives. If my hair was still that white, then that maybe it would be a problem but by the second season my hair started falling out in chunks and I had to wear a wig. That was a little limiting when I had to wear the white hair, that hair color only works for robots, rock singers or strippers (laughing). But no, I’ve never thought of it as a hindrance at all it’s only been good for me.
TT: You and Katee have a charity called Acting Outlaws and you sell a calendar as a fundraiser for it. Can you tell me a little more about the organization?
TH: Katee and I started this a few years ago because we’re really good friends, love motorbike riding and the culture around it and we want to give back. We both do on our own individually but we started talking and decided to make a company that’s just us. We do charity rides and are about to put out a release on what we’re doing in terms of rides in 2014. We’re starting off with the Tulip Ride out of Seattle that benefits the Humane Society and the Red Cross. And we’re doing one around Sturgis in the summer and we’re looking to do one in the fall in Los Angeles. Our biggest thing we’ve done to date is probably the La La Ride documentary that we’ve done to help raise awareness of the continued clean up of the Gulf spill a couple years ago. We filmed that and made a documentary available on our website that’s available for download. It’s something that we have fun doing and its something that we can do to help raise awareness of different causes and a little money to help people out.
TT: Thank you so much for your time. I hope “Killer Women” does well for you and it was a pleasure talking to you.
TH: Thank you, you as well. And get over that cold.