She doesn't have to channel Dirk to get the part right.
By LUAINE LEE
When Katee Sackhoff got the part of Lt. Kara "Starbuck" in the Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," she had no idea the role had originally been played by a man.
That might have deterred some actresses, but it didn't faze Sackhoff, 24. "My agents and my managers are saying, 'Are you sure?' I says, 'What's the big problem? I don't get it,"' she says.
"What's interesting is that I didn't even watch the show. I might have watched a half an hour of an episode, and the fans -- if you read the Internet some of them say -- 'There's moments when she channeled Dirk Benedict [the original Starbuck]. I swear to God she tried to copy him.' ... So I was, like, 'I'm sorry, maybe they just cast the part right."'
Sackhoff was 8 when she rode on the E.T. ride at an amusement park and first thought of acting. "I looked at my mother when the little bicycles are going through the air, and I says, 'If this is what acting is, this is what I want to do.' ...
"I went home and forgot about it for years because I was swimming, and I just assumed that I was going to swim in college and that was the path my life was going to take."
But a knee injury ended her competitive swimming career.
"I had to find something else I could do. It was a really a weird moment in my life because my life revolved around swimming," says Sackhoff.
Faced with the lack of an athletic outlet, she began acting at 16. It was then that she knew she would try her luck in Hollywood.
Sackhoff, who grew up in Portland, Ore., left home at 18 with a U-haul filled with furniture she'd bought in anticipation of her move.
It was hard for her parents to see her go, she says. "They went from thinking their daughter was going to go to college to realizing that I was going to go try something that everyone thought I was going to fail at," she says. "I think they believed in me but I think every parent's biggest fear is that their child is going to be hurt and they're not going to be able to heal that pain."
Though she suffered three failed series, she began auditioning for Starbuck in December and landed the part in February.
"I had the whole Christmas break to sit there and say, 'I want this part, I want this part,"' she laughs.
It wasn't hard, she says. "Because I knew I was going to get it. I just knew. There's moments when you just know -- I guess that's the way I am -- I know when I've nailed the part. ... I don't know what it is, but I definitely know when I'm going to get a job. And I just felt like this was my part from the day I read the script."
A self-confessed introvert, Sackhoff says she doesn't like crowds or getting dressed up, and she hates working out with a passion.
Her father was a developer and used to hire Sackhoff to clean up the places after they'd been refurbished. She may have learned a lot about cleaning, but now, she says, "I don't like to pick up after myself and to run errands and to sit down and balance my checkbook. I hate that. I'm horrible at it, God awful at it."
She's an excellent cook, loves food and says she'd like to own a restaurant someday.
"A tiny three-seater in the closet of a bigger restaurant. I'm a really good entertainer, I have dinner parties at my house, and I just relish it."