Sasha Roiz :: Playing Caprica’s gay bad boy
Whether he realizes it or not, actor Sasha Roiz is breaking new ground with his role on the new SyFy (and pre-Battlestar Galactica) series Caprica. As Sam Adama, who happens to be the Uncle to William Adama (the same Adama who will one day command the famous vessel 58-years in the future), Roiz’s character is not only a part of the underground mob but he’s also openly gay with a solid relationship in a world where discrimination no longer exists. Sounds like paradise, right? Thankfully, sexuality takes a back seat to the other issues that are explored on the new hit series.
To find out more about Roiz’s portrayal of Sam and his many loyalties, if Sam’s sexy tattoos are real as well as how Roiz hopes our current society can get to the same place as Caprica in terms of discrimination, EDGE’s Jim Halterman had some one-on-one time with Roiz.
A world without discrimination
EDGE: The role of Sam was expanded to series regular after the pilot was shot but before that happened did you have a feeling your character could be more important to the show and overall story?
Sasha Roiz: I did. I felt that there was potential for the character. While we were shooting the pilot, I thought I personally would enjoy seeing where this character goes and the world that he exists in because it would introduce this entire sub-world that we only hint at a little bit in the pilot. I thought it would be a very interesting place to go.
EDGE: When you found out that Sam was going to be gay, how did you approach it as an actor?
SR: Well, I was very surprised at first because I didn’t perceive him as gay when I played him in the pilot but then it was explained to me that it wouldn’t effect it all that much because it’s a world without any kind of discrimination in regards to sexuality so I realized there was not a need to alter the performance at least in regards to that. It was just going to be an interesting statement and another layer to this character and an interesting statement about this society at large. To be honest, I really don’t dwell too much on him being straight or gay. I just am more excited by the fact that he’s a more stable, monogamous individual in a loving relationship. That affects the character much more than his sexual orientation. It doesn’t inform me all that much but I do love the statement it makes and I love the effect it casts on the viewers.
Two sides of Sam
EDGE: We kind of see two different sides of Sam - one gentle side with his nephew and his partner but then he’s also a killer and mobster. Is it safe to guess that these two sides are going to cross and make things more complicated?
SR: Yes, I think everyone’s life is going to get more complicated. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. You’re going to see a lot of characters being put in very compromising situations and having to make very difficult decisions for themselves and others. Things get a lot more complex for Sam, certainly with his loyalties. There seems to be a disconnect at one point between his loyalties to the mob and his loyalties to his home life and it’s going to put him in very precarious situations. It will be very interesting.
EDGE: Sam seems to do a lot of his brother Joseph’s dirty work but is that out of loyalty since they don’t seem to really get along too well?
SR: I think it’s been very strained for a while. I think the more Joseph has tried to assimilate the Caprica society and distance himself from his roots, the more he and Sam find themselves in conflict. For Sam, it’s just the opposite. There’s absolutely no interest in assimilating and anything Caprican for him. He lives in an entirely different sub-world and an almost ghetto-ized sub-culture. He has no patience for that whatsoever so he sees that as a form of weakness, especially when it extends beyond Joseph and how he’s bringing up Willie. I think Sam does take offense to certain things and disagrees with him. You have these two men trying to raise one child with two very different points of view so that leads to confrontation very often. What’s interesting is what Willie takes from there and it won’t always be this way. There will be an attachment and it will take him in a different direction altogether so it will be interesting to watch.
EDGE: The relationship between Sam and Willie is great to see since it’s a gay man nurturing a child but is Sam trying to heal something within himself?
SR: That’s one thing that will be revealed in a later episode in terms of Sam and Joseph and the tragedy that they come from. I think there’s been some mention that they were orphans and there’s definitely a compensation for their own upbringing in that they themselves were orphans during a civil war and they lost a lot. Family comes first for them now and they understand the value of family more than many others.
EDGE: You’re obviously in great shape for the show. Are any of the tattoos real?
SR: No, no, no. Can you imagine? They’re not but the thing is that when they do the whole torso it takes 3-4 hours and 2-3 makeup girls but it’s fun and it comes across well. It certainly has a beautiful aesthetic and it certainly is effective.
EDGE: Is there a pressure for you to stay in really good shape knowing you might be shirtless often?
SR: Yes! I read the scripts in advance and see ’shirt off’ so I make sure I get to the gym. But, ya know, within reason. I think there’s a difference between someone who is menacing and someone who just looks like he’s just hanging out in the gym all day long. You want to look good but I think you want to look like a guy who’s out there working and not just spending all his time drinking protein shakes.
EDGE: Do you think our current society can get to the same place as in Caprica where sexuality is just an afterthought?
SR: I think we’re definitely getting there especially in some of the cities that are more open minded and assimilated in that regard but I think that it’s an unfortunate human trait that I find that we somehow elevate ourselves and do that at the cost of someone else. I hope we get there on all levels. I hope we put away any form of discrimination at some point. When I look back 20 years ago from today you look at the advances and there is some reason to be positive and I certainly hope we continue in that direction.
EDGE: Are you getting used to the attention now that the show is airing? Is it what you expected?
SR: I haven’t really had any attention so far, almost to the point where I’m like "Hey come on!" I haven’t had to experience that first hand too much at this point I’d be very happy if people were just watching the show and getting into it. It’s really a wonderful project and it’s going to go to some great places. Right now, all we’re doing is setting up the world and the society for some unbelievable stories to come. I would love for people to tune in and really enjoy it.
EDGE: What would be your ideal role or genre to be working in?
SR: To be honest, I love to do comedy. It’s a great outlet for me. I’d also love to do anything period. Anything from Greek/Roman to something historical. I just like the idea of stepping into another world. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity for that. But, for now, I hope to get the opportunity to come back and continue the stories that we just started telling. I love the character of Sam and I really enjoy portraying him and stepping into those shows and I want to get back there. There’s a lot to discover.
Caprica airs Friday nights on the SyFy Channel at 9/8c.