For sci-fi aficionados, one of the highlights of televised intergalactic intrigue in recent years has been the remake of the kitschy 1978 miniseries Battlestar Galactica. And one of the most talked-about characters on the remake is Executive Officer Karl "Helo" Agathon, played by former Yukoner Tahmoh Penikett. Tahmoh is the son of Tony Penikett, who, as the leader of the New Democratic Party, was the premier of Yukon from 1985 to 1992.Anyone flying Air North this holiday season who could send in scans?
Having parents who were politically active meant that from a young age Tahmoh got a good sense of how politics worked. "I had the opportunity to meet some incredibly intelligent and passionate people, not only from the federal and provincial arena, but from all over the world," he says. "[When I was growing up] everyone knew my father, so I was always expected to stay out of trouble, which I didn't do too well at."
Tahmoh, who has vague memories of the original Battlestar Galactica—"I definitely remember that Starbuck was the man"—seems to have been destined to play the role of Helo. "When I received the sides [scenes] for the audition, I had an instant connection to it," he says from Vancouver, where the series is filmed. "On the day of the audition I obviously brought what they were looking for, because eight days later I received word that I booked the part."
His role on the series has propelled Tahmoh into minor-celebrity status, with a Helo action figure and some unusual encounters with fans. "I was coming out of this acting workshop and this huge guy gave me this really strange look as I passed him on the way to the coffee shop," says Tahmoh. "He didn't look too happy and I'm thinking that this guy is obviously mad at me about something.… I might have to ditch the coffee and tussle with the big guy. Then once he gets close to me he yells, 'Are you f-ing Helo man?!! I f-ing love you, man!! Your show is the best on TV!!'"
Now that filming has wrapped up on the final season of Battlestar Galactica, Tahmoh is making the move to L.A. to pursue other acting opportunities. Not that stage work in Yukon is out of the question, though. "I'd love the opportunity to come back and do some theatre in the Yukon in the future," says Tahmoh. "When I'll have the time to do it in the near future, I'm not sure, but I'm game."
Please no one panic; filming for Battlestar hasn't wrapped permanently. They've only stopped because of the WGA strike.