From creator/showrunner Aaron Martin (Killjoys), the 10-episode sci-fi drama series Another Life (available to stream at Netflix on July 25th) follows Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff), an astronaut who ventures out into space in search of alien intelligence, but quickly realizes that she and her crew are facing unimaginable dangers that could keep them from ever returning home. And if they can manage to survive the external threat that they’re facing, they will also have to survive the building tension among the crew on the ship.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Katee Sackhoff (who is also a producer on the series) talked about how involved she got with every aspect of the series, having an idea of what the first three seasons would look like, the fast-paced shoot, how no character is safe, what she likes about playing Niko Breckinridge, when she knows that she’s found the character that she’s playing, the physicality of the role, working in such a confined space, the daunting task of showing the aliens on a sci-fi show, the similarities and differences from Battlestar Galactica, getting to be a part of the Star Wars universe by voicing a character for Star Wars: Clone Wars, returning for The Flash, and starting a YouTube channel.
Collider: This is a very intense show to watch. Was it an intense show to shoot?
KATEE SACKHOFF: It was a fear of mine, when we were filming, that it was so fast-paced that people wouldn’t have a chance to breathe when they were watching it. So, that was intentionally done, but it far exceeded my expectations, in the pacing. It’s a race car that never lets up.
When this project came your way, what was the pitch for the show and the character? What sold you on doing it?
SACKHOFF: Being a producer on the show gave me a really interesting perspective on it, in the sense that nothing was created when I came in. We had the outline of what the show was gonna be, but I was in the writers’ room and I got to really put what I feel is my fingerprint on the show, which is something that I was really looking forward to. In the trajectory of my career, it was the next thing that I really wanted to participate in. It scared me, in the sense that this was a very young crew, which means that it was gonna be a very young cast. I grew up in the business, and I’ve always been the youngest person on set. Going from being the youngest person on set to being the oldest person on set was interesting for me. So, I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen, from the very beginning. It was just the execution, done by Aaron Martin and the rest of the writing staff, that was just phenomenal.
Were there a lot of conversations about where this show could go, how the show could continue and where the story could go next with, with more seasons?
SACKHOFF: Yeah, absolutely. Being in the pitch meeting with Netflix was one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done. Every one of the experiences that I’ve had on this show, as a producer is, has been one of the coolest experiences of my career, and I feel so blessed, but to have been in that pitch room, with Aaron and Noreen Halpern, with Halfire Entertainment, to pitch Netflix was very cool. So, we know where the show potentially will go for the first three seasons. As an actor, that was new for me. To really be a part of those conversations and to have an opinion was really cool.
It’s one thing to know where things are going for the season, but it’s another to actually be in it. What was it like to actually play out where things lead, by the end of this season, and what was your reaction to how all of this plays out?
SACKHOFF: You’re so correct, it’s one thing to know how things are going to go, on paper, but it’s a completely different thing, as an actor, to actually be taking them there. That, for me, was really interesting. I had a lot of struggles with this character, throughout, because there are moments where, morally, you realize that, at her core, she is a soldier. That’s part of why she was sent to lead this mission. She is unwavering in her ability to do what she was told to do, and stay on mission. What’s so great about Niko is that the mission aligns with her heart, which is to protect her family, back home. She’ll do anything to stay on mission and protect your family including sacrifice some crew members. Nobody is safe on this show. That’s one of the things that Aaron, Noreen and I really wanted to hammer home, from the very beginning. Just because you think a crew member is gonna be there the whole time, that’s absolutely probably not the case. Just when you fall in love with them, they’re probably gonna die.
SACKHOFF: Yeah, nobody is safe. When we were in the writers’ room and coming up with ideas, the soma tubes were so important to me. As an actor and as a producer on the show, I just thought, what a phenomenal story piece and opportunity to have endless amounts of people that can come go. It just opens up your story more. It’s no longer a crew of 10. It’s potentially a crew of 10 times six. Even Niko is replaceable, that’s what I love about it. There are more captains in soma sleep. If something happens to Niko, someone takes her place.
When you play a character like this, you really kind of have to be all in, from day one. What did you like about Niko and about playing her, from day one, and what did you kind of grow to appreciate about her, the longer you played her?
SACKHOFF: I know that I have found a character, as an actor ,when I start to dream as them. I kept saying to Aaron Martin, “I haven’t found her yet. I haven’t found her. I don’t understand why she does the things that she does. I just don’t get her.” I was panicked because, not only am I the lead of the show, but I’m also a producer on the show, and I didn’t know who my character was yet, on day one of filming, I was like, “This isn’t good. This is really bad.” And I found her two days before we started filming. I started dreaming of her and I realized, at that moment, that everything was gonna be okay. But there were things about her that I didn’t get. I didn’t understand why a mother would leave her child. I didn’t get that. I had to reconcile, as a woman who’s not a mother, that sometimes the best way to save your child is to leave them. That didn’t make sense to me, so I wrestled with that a lot. I had to have that make sense to me. I had to put myself in the shoes of a mother, where you hear those stories of a mother who has to choose between a child, or they have to choose between their husband and their child, and they’re put in these situations where they’ve got to make these incredibly difficult decisions, and they do it. That is who Niko is, and that was a hard thing for me to figure out.