Esai Morales wants you to know that Caprica (premieres Friday, 9/8c on Syfy) is no Battlestar Galactica. "BSG is BSG, and we will never touch BSG because we're not in that business. We don't want to be," he tells TVGuide.com of the prequel. "We're trying to show that someone's parents and someone's pre-life is different than their children's." Set 58 years before the post-apocalyptic events of Battlestar, Caprica focuses on the thriving, technologically advanced Twelve Colonies that eventually create the Cylons. Morales plays Joseph Adama, a lawyer and father to BSG's Commander William Adama.
The elder Adama meets inventor Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) when they both lose daughters in the same terrorist bombing. Graystone attempts to bring the girls back as robots, and it's from there that a "morally gray family saga unfolds," Morales says. Find out what else is in store this season and why the actor thinks the show is similar to The Godfather.
TVGuide.com: How did you get involved with the show?
Esai Morales: My manager told me to take a look at this. "This is a really classy show," she said. "The creators are geniuses. It's on Syfy, but they're doing a whole rebranding thing. This could be a flagship show for them." I wasn't a BSG guy per se. I had kind of grown away from sci-fi in my adult years. I'm really happy to be back in a way that I don't feel like I'm regressing to my childhood! There is nerd appeal, but at the same time, it's something many people can identify with. It's just a smart show and unlike anything I've seen on television.
Watch the extended pilot of Caprica now
TVGuide.com: Joseph Adama is sort of mythological since we've never met him until now. How would you describe him?
Morales: In reality, the myth is not as grandiose. We will be deconstructing a bit of the statue of the man and showing the human being. I'm not playing him as some sort of hero. I'm playing him as a man who is just trying to survive, stay on the right side of the law and be a good role model to what's left of his family. He'd like to reconnect with the digital aftereffects of his own daughter. When he hugs and holds her, it's as if [she's real] — except for one little thing: He can't feel her heartbeat, which is that poetic representation. What are these things if they are not people? What do they feel? Where do they go when they're in limbo?
TVGuide.com: How will the conflict between the Adamas and the Graystones and the repercussions of artificial intelligence progress on the show?
Morales: It's conflict that can sometimes turn into collision and sometimes goes back into conflict. It's kind of like being in business with Donald Trump. You never know what you're going to get. You have to look closely to see what's going on in this society that seems to have it all. What happens to a people when their technological prowess exceeds their sociological ways? It's like giving a child a gun. The power that technology gives us unduly influences us to lord over others. Do we take advantage or do we step aside and say "not I"? There are no good or bad people, just good or bad acts. And it's good or bad depending on who's doing the acting and who's being acted upon.
Morales: We are. [In] one of the episodes, I have to deal with possibly the most devastating drama that the character has faced yet. You would think after all he goes through it wouldn't get worse, but it gets worse. We take a gamble and it doesn't go well and we basically have to make a run. If I suggest too much, it'll be obvious. I was literally in tears when I read it. I went to bed in tears with the thought that of that happening to me. [In the season finale], there might be a time jump. We might see them a few years later.TVGuide.com: What do you have to say to BSG fans who may be critical of the show?
Morales: Lighten up. Relax. [Laughs] It's a standalone show, but you can see little nods and winks here and there. I think it's going to be a lot of fun for BSGers. We haven't forgotten, but the fact is we're not supposed to know! We don't know my son is going to end up the admiral of a fleet of what's left of humanity. I don't even want to think about that! It's also great for new fans because it's a prequel, so it's designed for you to not know anything about BSG. It's almost like we're asking you to not look into the future.
Morales: The closest I can compare our story line to is The Godfather. Was it an action movie? No. But did it kick ass? Yes, it did. It had a lot of stuff, but it's the human intrigue that's interesting. It's people politics, people dynamics that make a show really good, whether it's Desperate Housewives or Lost or The Sopranos. It's the people we've grown to love or otherwise. We know at the end of the chess game the Cylons are going to kick our ass. Don't you want to know how we got into this mess and maybe avoid it? It's a heritage thing. I think the big secret is we're all each other.TVGuide.com: Did you enjoy saying "frak"?
Morales: [Laughs] Oh boy, I stuck "fraks" in there where there weren't any! And I never slipped up!