An award-winning stage actor in his native England, James Callis was a veteran of film, television and stage before he accepted the role of Dr. Gaius Baltar on the revamped and acclaimed "Battlestar Galactica" (The Sci Fi Channel, 2004-09). His performance as the tormented scientist who was seduced into betraying mankind by the bio-mechanical Cylons, and who struggled with madness throughout the series' four season run, earned some of the highest praise from television critics and fans, signaling Callis' arrival on the international scene as a performer with considerable potential.
Born June 4, 1971 in London, England, Callis developed an interest in the performing arts at an early age, pursuing it with vigor in his academic career. As a student at Derwent College at the University of York, he was a frequent writer and director of productions, as well as performer who also studied guitar and classical piano. After graduating from York in 1993, he was accepted at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and upon his graduation in 1996, made his West End debut in "Old Wicked Songs" opposite esteemed actor Bob Hoskins. His performance earned him the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer from the London Critics' Circle. This visible acclaim helped him land several substantial parts in numerous West End productions.
Callis also made his television debut in 1996 in an episode of "Murder Most Horrid" (BBC, 1991-99), a comedy series starring Dawn French. He quickly added several more series episodes to his resume, including "The Ruth Rendell Mysteries" (ITV, 1987-2000) and "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (BBC, 1999-2000), which also employed his future "Galactica" co-star Jamie Bamber. In 1999, Callis made his screenwriting debut as co-author of the short film "Surety" (1999), in which he also starred.
The following year, Callis graduated to supporting roles in two major American miniseries - the Emmy-winning "Arabian Nights" (2000) and the somewhat less acclaimed "Jason and the Argonauts" (2000) - before returning behind the camera as co-director and co-writer of "Beginner's Luck" (2001), in which he co-starred as an aspiring actor who mounts a disastrous Shakespearean tour around Europe. The film, which was based on Callis' own theatrical experiences, co-starred Julie Delpy and Steven Berkhoff and received middling reviews, but still managed to earn a three-week theatrical run in London.
That same year, Callis could be seen in "Bridget Jones' Diary" as Tom, close friend to the title character (Renee Zellweger). He later would return to the character for its 2004 sequel, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason." The increased exposure led to larger roles in television productions like "Victoria and Albert" (2001) and "Helen of Troy" (2003), for which he played King Menelaus, husband to the legendary Helen. The following year, he was cast as Baltar in the Sci Fi Channel's two-part miniseries "Battlestar Galactica," which offered a revised and more serious take on the ABC space opera from 1978-1979. It ranked among the highest rated original programs ever broadcast on the channel, and a full series was soon ordered in 2004, with Callis resuming his conflicted role, much to the delight of die-hard fans.
In the original "Galactica," Baltar (played by character actor John Colicos) was a hissable villain straight from the pulp serials of the 1930s, who betrayed his fellow humans for a position of power with the despotic robot race known as the Cylons. Callis' Baltar was a scientist whose resolve is weakened by a sexual relationship with the Cylon, Number Six (Tricia Helfer). Baltar's passion for her causes him to reveal key defense secrets about the human colonies, which in turn leads to a Cylon attack that nearly decimates mankind. Gripped with guilt, and haunted by visions of Six - who he believes to be the product of a computer chip in his brain, though no such device is ever found - Baltar struggles to maintain his moral core and help his fellow humans, but revelations of his betrayal by a copy of Six (again, Helfer) nearly capsize his efforts. Baltar then attempts to write past wrongs by running for vice president of the colonies. He wins, but his mental state begins deteriorating under constant visions of Six and the arrival of Gina, another Six copy who attracts Baltar's attention. He later runs for president against former leader Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), beginning a disastrous term in office which is marked by more treachery and encroaching madness. He is soon ousted from power and tried by his former companions for treason. Though he escapes punishment, he finds himself an outcast from the rest of humanity. For his performance as Baltar, Callis won a 2006 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as received a Saturn nomination in 2007.
"Galactica" occupied most of Callis' time from 2003 through 2007, though he did manage to appear in the quirky indie comedy-drama "Dead Cool" (2004), starring as the ghost of a man killed in a bus accident who returns to visit his eccentric family whenever he feels they are about to forget him. He later played the villainous Haman, nobleman in the court of King Xerxes (Luke Goss), in the 2006 theatrical release "One Night with The King," which was based on the Biblical story of Queen Esther. In 2008, he returned for the fourth and final season of "Galactica," with fans anxious to see who or what would seal Baltar's fate.
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his West End debut in "Old Wicked Songs" alongside Bob Hoskins
Television debut was a guest role on Great Britain's "A Murder Most Horrid"
Made regular appearances in the ensemble cast of the U.K. drama, "Soldier, Soldier"
Appeared in the British television movie, "The Scarlet Pimpernel"
Feature film debut in "Bridget Jones's Diary" playing the part of Tom, friend of Bridget (Renée Zellweger)
Appeared in "Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight" at the Soho Theatre
Co-wrote and co-directed (with Nick Cohen), "Beginner's Luck," a farce about a struggling theater company, based on Callis' early experiences; also featured Callis opposite Julia Delpy
Cast as Gaius Baltar on the cult hit remake of "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-fi channel)
Reprised role of Gaius Baltar for the series, "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi Channel)
Reprised the role of Tom in "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason"