by Troy Rogers
Ahead of "Know Thy Enemy" and the Caprica debut of James Marsters, we scored a few minutes with Marsters on a conference call to learn more about where James Marsters thinks humanity is headed, why Barnabas appears to be a pain freak, and how he views his new Caprica character.
THE DEADBOLT: You recently mentioned that Caprica scares you because it's a look at where humanity is headed. Can you expand on what you meant by that?
JAMES MARSTERS: Well, we are much like Rome, you know? The cycles are going faster now because of technology. So Rome had an empire for thousands of years where ours seems to have lasted about fifty. And I don't know if our culture has gone through [the phases]. They say civilizations go through barbarism, then civilization, then decadence. I don't know where the civilization part happened [laughs]. Maybe it was the '60s, I don't know.
But it may be true. We are starting to become decadent as a society and the cycle is repeated in all societies that dare to call themselves empires. I think the thing that Caprica, you can call it Caprica, you don't have to call it America, you don't have to call it the world. You can even be an audience member and say, "Their world is about to end and they don't know it and I'm going to watch," because we've seen Battlestar Galactica and we know what's going to happen, they don't.
There's something amazingly dramatic in that. But also, it kind of reflects where we are. It gets pretty depressing if you really go there. But if you talk to climatologists, if you talk to the people who are providing energy for the world, if you talk to the world food production, if you talk to people who are experts on water, the fresh water supply, it just gets depressing. Troy, you've got to watch it when you watch the Discovery Channel, it can just trip you out.
So yeah, the people who do fantasy and sci-fi, we can address these issues fairly directly because we just change the name. So we give you some spaceships, laser guns, and robots and stuff, and we can all think about the stuff we don't want to think about but need to anyway.
THE DEADBOLT: What was the deal with the barbed wire around the arm? Is Barnabas a pain freak?
MARSTERS: No, man. It's flagellation. It's got a long history in the Christian church. I don't know, it may have histories in other religions as well, but I know it's from the middle ages. The flagellence, thought to be the black death, the black plague was God's punishment for human sin. So they were punishing themselves, going town to town beating themselves with whips that had these metal pieces in them. And they would spray their backs and their blood all over each town that they went trying to lift the plague by suffering. Besides the rats, they were more responsible for spreading the plague [laughs]. It's this idea that if the Bible says I should be like Christ and Christ suffered on the cross, then I should do that, too.
THE DEADBOLT: How do you see Barnabas? Is he a terrorist or just a criminal?
MARSTERS: No, he's a revolutionary. How I see him is how he sees himself. That's a complex question. I mean, if I'm going to ask, I'll answer as an actor making the guy. You could say that George Washington was a terrorist and he was using different battle techniques. I mean, if you compare the English who were just coming at it in formation, standing people up in an open field and marching forward, and he [Washington] was just hiding in the bushes and shooting, that's a little bit like the new tactics we're facing in Afghanistan and Iraq. So there is a difference.
A terrorist is trying to instill terror in a civilian population and they are definitely expanding the battlefield to the civilian population. But in my mind, Barnabas is trying to save the world, trying to give the world a religion that will give guidance to people. He recognizes that some people, not all but some people, really do need Superman to tell them, "You will not pee in the pool. And if you do, I will kick you out." They need a God and they need the Ten Commandments. They need "thou shalt do this and do that" and you'll burn if you don't and you'll go to heaven if you do. They needed a daddy figure. Without that, you really face what Rome faced, which is people giving in to sensual desire to the point where the whole society wrecks. And that one's true!
You know, the Rome society is the same religion they have on Caprica, which is a multi-deity God mythology. In Rome, the roman mythology had nothing to do with what you should do or what you should try to become. It was just trying to explain human psychology. The Gods behaved in very human ways and it was really explored why we are the way we are. But that doesn't give guidance. You can argue that that's exactly what you should do but Barnabas sees it differently, because he's going into these V-clubs and he's seeing best friends shoot each other down for fun.