We’ve been waiting all year to share this interview with you. Katee Sackhoff met the Television Critics Association in January to talk about her new show “Longmire,” which premiered last night on A&E. She plays a new female deputy Vic Moretti to the Absaroka County Sheriff’s department under Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor.)
We joined the TCA in asking Sackhoff about her return to television, her badass roles, her part in the new Riddick movie and she even shared her tips for coping with a health crisis.
CraveOnline: How badass do you get to be on “Longmire?”
Katee Sackhoff: Pretty badass, I guess. I don't know.
CraveOnline: Is that something you look for in characters or does it just happen to you?
Katee Sackhoff: No, and what’s funny is it doesn’t just happen. I think that I actually have, in the last couple years, actually played a wide range of characters. They just haven’t come out yet. I think for television to play these characters is just more fun. I think it gives you more interesting things to do on a daily basis at work.
CraveOnline: When you started on “24” people were shocked you weren’t kicking ass.
Katee Sackhoff: I know.
CraveOnline: Did you have a reaction to that?
Katee Sackhoff: I knew going in that I was going to start kicking people’s asses. It was just a matter of time, and they promised me I’d have a gun. This is one of those things, this character is more like me than I’ve ever played. She’s funny, she’s witty, she’s kind of sarcastic, she whines a little bit. I wanted to make her more light than I’ve played before and I do think she is.
Yes, she does have that badass side to her, but I don't think it comes easy for her. She’s just a little spitfire but I think that it comes from I think she’s trying to keep up with the boys and prove that she can do it.
CraveOnline: I heard a little twang come out when you said that.
Katee Sackhoff: Well, Wyoming doesn’t have an accent. I just do.
CraveOnline: You grew up in Oregon, right?
Katee Sackhoff: I did, I did but I dated a man from the south for about six years so it comes out of me when I’m tired.
CraveOnline: Oregon also has a lot of wide open spaces.
Katee Sackhoff: Oregon does. That’s part of what interested me in this is that Oregon has a lot of native land and I grew up in and around that and very aware that you can’t go play in the woods over here because that’s an Indian burial ground and you can’t go over here so I grew up in and around that all the time so it was something for me that has never been introduced on television.
So I thought it would be fun. I was excited and when I met these guys, it’s the reason I took the job because I had decided not to do television ever again. I was done until I met these guys.
CraveOnline: Why were you done with television?
Katee Sackhoff: Because I’m tired. I haven’t stopped working since I was 17 and I kind of wanted a break. I was ready to just stop for a while and I was done, and then I read this. They were like, “Just take a meeting, just take a meeting.” My manager says, “It’s my job to be smart for you when you’ve stopped being smart for yourself.”
So he read this and I was like oh sh** I’ll go. I’ll go in. As soon as I met Greer [Shephard], I wanted to work for this woman. She was so different than what I’d been exposed to with the pilots that I’d done before. I truly mean the network tries to shove you into a box and that’s just not who I am. I wasn’t raised on network. I was raised over on cable.
CraveOnline: What box were they trying to shove you into?
Katee Sackhoff: They want to take away everything about you that makes you an individual and make you their little puppet, which sells. Middle America wants basic and I don’t play that way. I can’t do that.
I famously had a huge television producer say to me one time, “Can you please stop doing that to your face? It’s very distracting and unattractive.” And I was like, “You mean move it? Okay, sorry, I guess we’re not going to work together.”
CraveOnline: But you did well on “24.”
Katee Sackhoff: I did but those producers let me do whatever I want. They really did and they said, “You know, this is our last season. Have fun.” So I did. I obviously was directed by the directors but it was one of those things where I did get more freedom and “24” went on for so long that they had the freedom from the network. They weren’t quite under the thumb anymore where you are in a first season for most shows.
CraveOnline: Is there any difference acting in the wide open spaces?
Katee Sackhoff: It’s f***ing freezing. It was freezing. Let’s be honest. My little butt was shaking the entire time. I think I lost weight while I was there because I was constantly shaking. I had long johns on. The scene where we’re shooting with the hairdryer, my character has to melt the entire field to try and find one slug with a hair dryer.
So she’s on her knees freezing and it was me, freezing. I’m shivering and we only did the phone call twice because I was like, “This is going to be the best acting of my God damn life because I want to get home and have a drink.”
CraveOnline: Where do you think Vic has to go this season?
Katee Sackhoff: I don't know. I’m curious. I’m really curious because I know that there was an idea to have her go off with Walt. I know they kind of thought she would go off with Branch. I’m kind of hoping that it’s me and the Ferg in a field for the entire season, because Adam Bartley is one of the most beautiful finds that I’ve ever seen in this business.
He is completely unmolded. He’s just this green kid that came in and steals the whole pilot. He’s a better actor than all of us. He’s amazing and he doesn’t even mean to be. HE doesn’t know he’s being sweet. He doesn’t know he’s being funny. He just is that guy and he’s amazing. I hope every one of my scenes are with him.
CraveOnline: Could you be a cop if you had to do what they do?
Katee Sackhoff: No, no, not at all. I am way too wimpy. I am such a baby. I am way too needy. I am way too much of a whiner. It would never happen. I mean, I am convinced that I could fly a plane.
CraveOnline: Have you ever tried?
Katee Sackhoff: No, I don’t want to. I’m scared of flying, but in the event that a plane was going down, I think that I could be that person and I think I would accidentally raise my hand. They’d be like, “Do we have a pilot?” I’d be like, “Oh, totally, me. I can do this. Keep it level, right? How hard is it? Just talk me through it. It’ll be fine.”
I’m convinced I’m tough. I’ve never actually punched somebody. It’s all these weird things that Katee, you’re not that tough. Tricia Helfer’s tougher than I am. It’s not good. I have this crazy syndrome in my head that makes me think that I’m actually these characters and I’m really not.
CraveOnline: Are you excited to go back into space with Riddick?
Katee Sackhoff: I am. I am excited. I’m a huge fan of the series thus far and I love Vin. He’s really great and David Tuohy’s done a great job with the script. I’m really excited to work with Jordi Molla. Really excited. It’s fun and she is by far the toughest character I will ever play.
CraveOnline: With “Longmire” were you looking for something different as a western?
Katee Sackhoff: I was just looking for good material. My goal in this business has been just longevity. When I moved here when I was 17, I always say the second job I got was icing. I knew I could do it. I never dreamed people would give me the opportunity to actually do it.
CraveOnline: Do you have typecasting issues now?
Katee Sackhoff: I don’t care. Typecast me. I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve been given the opportunity to not be typecast in other small roles in films that I’ve been doing so I’m okay with that.
CraveOnline: Did Riddick go after you or did you audition for it?
Katee Sackhoff: I went in on Riddick about six months ago and was in the mix. It was kind of a mutual thing after that. I just went in for a meeting about six months ago.
CraveOnline: Vin [Diesel] is a geek. Did he know all about "BSG"?
Katee Sackhoff: [Laughs] I think we both knew of each other. He’s a really cool guy, I’m really excited.
CraveOnline: Can you tell us anything about your character?
Katee Sackhoff: Just that she’s a Nordic bounty hunter.
CraveOnline: The roles we’ve known you as lately are soldier, government agent and now Sheriff’s department. Is there something about you that makes people think you can give orders?
Katee Sackhoff: You know, I think it’s that I’m so unauthoritative in real life that I think that it’s something I guess I’m just drawn to. I say that in movies they always want me to be the hooker but in TV they want me to be a police officer. I don't know where this massive discrepancy came from.
Three movies ago I had bright fake pink nails and bright red hair in clothes that were barely there. I was like, “Why can’t I be in my flight suit?” So in my films I play very different roles. Riddick is the first tough character I’ve played in a film, but in television it’s fun. I enjoy it. Like I said, I would rather go to work and kick some ass and have the guns and get to do the stunts at work on a daily basis because that makes a TV show more fun.
CraveOnline: What else would you like to say about “Longmire?”
Katee Sackhoff: The one thing that I love about the show is, everyone talks about “Battlestar Galactica” and it’s lightning in a bottle. The thing that I haven’t had until “Battlestar” and then I haven’t had after “Battlestar” is this family camaraderie.
As soon as we all flew there, everyone was on a plane but Robert [Taylor.] We were a family before we got off the plane, and then we met Robert and he kind of folded in. Every single one of us loves each other and that’s no bullsh**. We actually really like each other and we hang out.
We’ve been hanging out all the time. Adam and I go ride motorcycles together. We just love each other and that’s what keeps a show on the air. That, good writing, good producers and a network behind you, and we have all those elements which I haven’t had since “Battlestar.” And I’ve tried, a couple time.
CraveOnline: Have you kept up with Edward James Olmos and his plans for “BSG” graphic novels?
Katee Sackhoff: No. I mean, I keep up with him but not professionally. Personally, yes, for sure.
CraveOnline: You went through some health issues with your thyroid. How long did it take you to get back to normal?
Katee Sackhoff: I’m still going through it. I just was raised too high and started having massive panic attacks in public situations. I couldn’t figure out what it was and I went and said, “I think my medication’s too high. I think you guys raised me too high.” So they realized I was too high, took me off and now I’m tired again.
So it’s finding a balance. It’s constantly changing. I guess it’s just my thing that I have to deal with, but it does make working out challenging. Especially for Riddick, the last movie I did I hurt both of my shoulders and back pretty severely so I couldn’t really move for three months. Then to train for Riddick was really difficult. My back just stopped hurting about a month ago. I in the last month gained 15 lbs. of muscle. I got really thin and really sick and it was hard.
It’s just a constant monitoring thing. It comes with its stresses. It makes me a bit more irritable. It makes me a bit more susceptible to depression. It makes me eat more, it makes me more tired, it makes me gain weight easier. It’s all these things that I think were little challenges in me before, it’s heightened them. But it’s okay. Everyone has their sh**. My dad used to always say that if everyone in the world put their sh** in a pot and you got to pick your sh**, you’d take yours back because you know how to deal with it.
And it’s true. It’s a learning curve and every day I wake up, I have so many little anecdotes my parents used to always say but my mom used to say, “Today this is the best you’re going to get. Tomorrow you can do better, but today this is it.” So I learned to take things as they come and it could always be worse.
CraveOnline: Does that make you want to lay back and do a simple comedy?
Katee Sackhoff: I keep saying after every job I do, like, “I’m going to do a little rom-com with Ryan Reynolds after this.” But it never happens.
CraveOnline: What’s the best health advice you got when you were going through that ordeal?
Katee Sackhoff: The best health advice I have is to constantly question. As a patient, I want a doctor to be eight years smarter than me. I want them to know. When you go to multiple doctors over and over and over again, you lose faith and I think you just can’t stop being your own advocate.
I think so many people stop questioning. They may get sick of me, but I text my doctor constantly. I’m like, “This happened.” It’s turned me into a bit of a hypochondriac but when you get cancer at 27, how do you not become a hypochondriac?
CraveOnline: What TV do you watch?
Katee Sackhoff: I download them on my computer. I’m obsessed with “Revenge.” Love it. I also love “The Secret Circle.” I also love the one with Sarah Michelle Gellar, “Ringer.”
CraveOnline: So you like The CW?
Katee Sackhoff: No, but I can’t watch “Gossip Girl.” I watched half an episode five years ago and was like ugh.
CraveOnline: Are your parents thrilled with your success?
Katee Sackhoff: I think they were really excited but I think what happens, that always happens, is that the fun of it wore off and now it’s just my job which is what it is with me. My dad’s a builder and I remember the first time he went on set and saw a whole house built on a stage.
He was like, “Oh my God” and he’s going around kicking sh**, and they’re filming. I’m like, “Dad, stop making noise.” He’s kicking stuff. He’s like, “How did they… Is there a foundation?” It was one of the best moments of my life, I loved it. He’s such a huge fan of Riddick so I’m so excited to take him to Montreal to see that all go down, the whole green screen. I think that he’ll just love it. That’s the fun about doing this is giving your parents that fun stuff.