Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Sci-Fi Legend Katee Sackhoff Spills On Her YouTube Channel, The Mandalorian, And More - Exclusive Interview

It's hard to think of a bigger name in modern sci-fi than Katee Sackhoff. Ever since her starmaking turn as Starbuck on the critically acclaimed Battlestar Galactica reboot, she's been a genre fixture. She's done Star Wars, first by voicing the Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan Kryze on The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and then later bringing the character to life on The Mandalorian. She has the whole superhero thing covered, thanks to a prolific voice acting career and a recurring role on The Flash, where she plays villain Amunet Black. She's teamed up with Vin Diesel in Riddick, led a team of young hotshots to the stars on Another Life, and the list goes on.

And yet, there's much more to Sackhoff than science fiction. Not only did she play sheriff Vic Moretti on the neo-western Longmire for six seasons, making her a favorite with a whole different set of fans, but she also runs her own YouTube channel, Blood, Sweat & Coffee

Of all of Sackhoff's projects, that last one might be the most personal. On Blood, Sweat & Coffee, Sackhoff goes into extreme detail about her fitness routine, general wellness trends, and the pressures that come with being a female action star in Hollywood. Sackhoff doesn't pull any punches, either. Her videos are unflinchingly honest, extremely informative, and wickedly funny. Like Sackhoff itself, it's the whole package.

Why Katee Sackhoff decided to start her fitness-focused YouTube channel, Blood, Sweat & Coffee

You have Another Life. You have The Mandalorian. You have your voice work. You're not hurting for things to do. Why start a YouTube channel?

It's interesting. There was a break between the first season and the second season of Another Life that was quite substantial. I think we were held for 16 months, maybe 14. I might be over-exaggerating. I'm not quite sure what the timing was, but it was definitely more than a year. It was really long.

Obviously, I was limited with what I could do, and we had just moved into this new house. We're in an industry that is very much dependent on people hiring you. And there are times where that can take its toll on you emotionally and creatively. And I think that I started getting really frustrated, and I was like, "I am just bored. I need to create something. I need to do something." I call it "building a fence." I need a start, middle and an end, and then you just see it finish.

And at the same time, people were asking me on Instagram and on Twitter longer-form questions that I really didn't feel that was the right platform for. And so I started brainstorming, and then my fiancé was like, "Why don't we start a YouTube channel? And you just do whatever you want, and let's figure out what it is and just be as dorky as you want to be. And let's just film it."

And so I started going through the questions that fans had asked me, the substantial ones that multiple people asked. We just sort of set out and started making episodes to answer those questions, and we started having a lot of fun. We started using me as a guinea pig to live a more sort of whole life, if you will.

You get asked about fitness often, then?

I get asked this a lot. For better or worse, I am very much associated with strong, physically fit, very capable, independent sort of healthy women.

Well, I don't know if Starbuck was that healthy. We should do an episode about moderation, although we sort of did, actually.

So those are the questions I get a lot. And people, men and women, sort of have reached out. They look up to me and they've asked me questions about what I do. And I wanted to be as honest as possible and I wanted to show the works and all. I wanted to not only talk about fitness, but talk about everything that encompasses how to live longer, healthier, and fuller, you know what I mean?

Like, we're coming up with what the season would be — because we break them down into episodes, 10 or 20 episodes a season — and we have an episode on there, basically everybody poops, because it's true. It's really a very good indicator of how your health is doing. And we don't talk about it a lot, especially women. And so, it's just sort of, let's talk about things that nobody wants to talk about. I'm going to make a fool out of myself and make people laugh at the same time. That was sort of what we're going for.

On the channel, you're incredibly open. You give specific numbers and everything. Was that hard for you at first?

Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that my weight has been a topic of discussion in this industry for so many years. I started acting when I was 17, and I was known for a very long time as the chubby girl from the Max Bickford show, or the show with Richard Dreyfuss. And it was like, I'm a size eight. I didn't understand.

But that takes its toll on you, and I think that I've built up this very thick skin over the years. And I am very proud of the healthy body that I have. And so that's why I wanted to talk about numbers, because I think that so many people get caught up in the numbers. That's only one indicator in the whole scope of how you're living and your goals.

Even if you want to lose weight or be more fit, the scale is only part of it. You know what I mean? And I think that we put so much pressure on these weird numbers that change constantly. If you weigh something different in the morning than you do at night, we shouldn't be using it really as an indication for our self-worth.

I would get so much self-worth out of it, and I found myself starving myself and then binge-eating and doing all these crazy things. And so many people do the same thing. So I thought, "My god, I'm just going to be honest about it." If I'm honest about it because I've got a thick skin, maybe it will help some other people because I can take it, was sort of the way that I was thinking of it.

What Katee Sackhoff's workout routine looks like

In one of your biggest videos, you mention that when you were on Battlestar you weren't paying as much attention to fitness. At what point in your career did you start working out more systematically and paying attention to your body?

I always worked out because I was athletic as a kid, and I always played sports. I was an athlete before I was an actor, so I was always very physical. But I moved out of the house when I was 18. My mom taught me how to steam vegetables in a microwave and make macaroni and cheese. I mean, that's what I ate. And so I really did put on the "freshman 15." I just was on camera in a TV show because I didn't know how to eat.

So right after Battlestar, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. That was a huge shift for me because all of a sudden, it didn't matter what I looked like if I was sick. I realized what I looked like and the aesthetics of what people see mean nothing to me if I'm not here. And so I started really focusing on how to fix the things that I have control over. How do I make myself as strong as possible to be ready for the things I don't have control over, to live as long and as fully as possible? And that really became my goal. This was in about 2008. And then, from there, it was just a lot of falling and getting back up again, making mistakes, getting back up again. But that's what really started it.

One thing that seems clear from your channel is that you don't have a typical workout. It depends on the specific body shape that you're working on. But on average, how much time do you spend training?

So, this is the interesting one, because I love it. I would say that I train on average, five days a week, 30 minutes to an hour. And it really does change. Right now, I'm really focusing on a more functional-fitness type of mobility. So for me, now, I'm lifting a lot heavier. I'm lifting heaver because I know that I don't have to be back on camera for a while. And the roles that I do have to be on camera for, I'm covered up. So as long as I fit in my wardrobe, it's fine.

I'm almost 41. I turn 41 in like a month. I want to lift my butt. It has started to fall. If my rear end is the roof of the house and my hamstrings are the walls, my roof is falling down my hamstrings. The roof is no longer being held up. And the only way to do that is to lift weight, to lift heavy and put some muscle back into your rear end and really focus on building strength. And so that is one thing that I'm focused on, because strong is so much more important to me than skinny now. And so I'm really, really focused on how I raise my butt, because it's getting a little flat.

How do you find time to exercise and train while you're in the middle of a shoot, given that set days can be quite long?

It's not easy. When I'm filming Another Life, I wake up at 4:30 to get my workouts in. I make sure that I get my cardio in the morning and at night. I quit smoking 10 years ago. And when I quit smoking, I had to relearn how to memorize dialogue, because I would just sit there and chain smoke and memorize dialogue. And when I quit smoking, I was like, I couldn't memorize dialogue for a good handful of years. I was like, "What the hell? I have to figure something out."

And what I realized is that, because of the repetitive nature of memorizing dialogue for myself, I had to be doing something else at the same time, so I get on a treadmill with my script or I walk around the neighborhood, talking to myself. People think I'm insane. And I memorize my dialogue. That's what I do. I get my cardio in as I'm flipping pages. I do probably an hour a day of just walking on a treadmill. But then I work out during lunch, or sometimes at night when I get home, but I make sure that I get into very hard workouts on the weekends.

So, you basically don't sleep is what you're saying.

Yeah, it's pretty sad. I wear a fitness wearable and when I'm working, it's like, "Girl, get some sleep. What is wrong with you?" Like, it's screaming at me. It's like, "Your recovery is 10%. You're almost dead. Why are you doing this to yourself?" And then it's the weekend and it's like, "Why are you drinking now? Go to bed."

Why Katee Sackhoff does so much sci-fi

You're known for playing badasses, and I think a lot of people associate you at this point with science fiction. Were you a genre fan before Battlestar?

My dad raised me on science fiction and action movies. I remember my dad showing me Predator when I was like six and being like, "Don't tell your mom." That was the thing that my dad and I had. We had this sort of love affair with film, and my dad loved genre. His favorite movie of all time is Forbidden Planet. He raised me on this stuff, and when I'd gotten to a point in my career where I could start being a little bit pickier about the things that I took, I started choosing things my dad would want to watch.

But the main reason I fought for Starbuck — I mean, I fought for her. I must've auditioned seven times. I wouldn't take no for an answer. I just kept calling, like, "They have to see me. They have to bring me back." Because I was about 10 years younger than what they wanted and the job I'd gotten right before that, I had just come off the Max Bickford show.

So I was fighting against this idea that I was the chubby girl from the Richard Dreyfuss show who had pink hair, and it was hard. It was hard. I started working out. I started trying to shift my appearance to be right for Battlestar. But my main reason was that I wanted to shoot a gun, and I was trying to think, how do you create longevity in a business that throws you out after five years, 10 years? And the best way to do that is to play characters that don't have an age and exist for something other than what they look like.

And so I fought for that role, because I knew that if I could book it, it would be a game changer and that people would start seeing me differently. And so that was the reason for that. But everything after that is, I just picked the things that my dad would want to watch. I didn't want to do sci-fi again after Battlestar for a while, so I did Longmire because my dad also loves westerns, and I was like, "Well, he'll like this."

Did you do any specific training for The Mandalorian?

I didn't. However, toward the end of shooting, I was training for Another Life, and I was shrinking in my wardrobe. I started to get a little flat butt. I started to get like diaper butt in my Mandalorian costume because I was losing so much. We had to put me in booty shapers and take it in. They had to take my suit in quite a bit because I was like getting into Niko shape, and all of a sudden, Bo-Katan was withering away.

At this point, you've done Battlestar. You've done Star Wars. You've done superheroes. Are there any of the big genre franchises that you have yet to do that you're really dying to?

I mean, I haven't been in Star Trek. That seems to be the one that's still there. That's still there and still exists for the possibility.

How Katee Sackhoff landed the part of Bo-Katan, and why she was difficult to play in live-action

So, Bo-Katan. You've been playing this character for a while now, first on Clone Wars and on Rebels, and now in live action. Was there anything for you that was sort of unusual or noteworthy about the audition or the casting process for the character?

From the beginning, when I voiced her, I did an audition. It was one of those beautiful phone calls that you get where they were going to create a female Mandalorian warrior, and it had sort of coincided with this, like, "Katee Sackhoff takes over a man's role." And I think that I was sort of in people's periphery. Like, if we're going to take a character that is most notably a male and turn it into a woman, we should just call Katee because she's done it once. For the longest time, I always joked that like, "Sure, I'm just going to do every character that has changed from a man to a woman." So I think that I sort of was in the conversation already.

So I got the offer for the voice, which was great. And for The Mandalorian, it wasn't really a casting process as much as it was just a meeting with Jon [Favreau]. It took me a good way through that meeting to realize that he was actually asking me if I wanted the job.

I was such a dum-dum, because as I finally started looking around, there were pictures all over the wall, and they were breaking down the season of The Mandalorian, and I was in them. I was like, "What is happening?" It was pretty surreal. I just remember sitting with my hands between my legs, cross-legged just like desperately trying to not fidget because I was so nervous to just be in the room, which is crazy.

You'd played this character before, but you'd never played her physically. For you, what was sort of the biggest challenge that you faced while bringing her into live action?

I've said before that I thought I was more prepared than I was. Because I played the character for so long, it was actually, in the beginning, a little bit of a disservice because I thought I was more prepared than I was. I knew the character, I memorized my dialogue, I was ready. And then I got to the set and I was like, "Oh, shoot." I've never walked as her. I've never moved as her. How does Bo-Katan sit? I don't know anything.

And I was like, "Oh my God." I was panicked. Thankfully, Bryce was directing that episode. Really, might I add, Jesus, her episode was amazing.

It was so good.

So good, right? And I remember her saying to me "It's fine. You're just like Pinocchio. You've been a wooden boy for so long and now you're a real boy. And you just have to figure out how to walk and talk." And it actually made it so much easier for me to hear her say that because all of a sudden, I had like this metaphor for what I was going through. I was like, it's totally fine, just need to add a little bit more real boy to it. You're okay. You're a little wooden right now.

It really helped. It really helped define her. And Favreau was on set one day and he really helped me find her. And he ran me through the paces of like, "Do this take this way, do this take this way." I mean we must have done the take 10, 15 different ways. But it helped me to land in her regality, because this is a woman who is noble-born. She is very purposeful. I mean, she's a princess, for a lack of a better word. I think that I wanted to make sure that she was calculated and that she wasn't a person that slouched, and she wasn't a person who moved as much as I do. She was very regal. That was the hardest part, just sitting still, because I was so nervous.

What Katee Sackhoff added to the character of Bo-Katan

Star Wars is this huge machine with so many moving parts. Were you able to give any input into the development of Bo-Katan's backstory and personality?

A little bit. It truly is a collaboration. I could sit there and I could talk about Star Wars with Dave and Jon for hours. And we did. We talked about it a lot, because I wanted to make sure that I knew Bo-Katan inside and out, and I knew the things that weren't on the page. I wanted to know, did she ever meet Yoda? Who does she know? Who does she not know? Because those things pepper your performance, and then you're allowed to give Easter eggs without even saying it. So I wanted to be aware of those kinds of things.

I think that there's a little bit of me in every performance. I try to make my characters look like they have something going on when they're not saying something. And I think it worked really well with Bo-Katan because she just looks like she's got a secret the whole time. I think it played well.

How long does it take you to shoot an episode of The Mandalorian?

Oh gosh. They're shooting multiple episodes at the same time, so I would say more than the typical television episode, for sure, but less than a movie.

About when did you film your Mandalorian appearances?

It was quite a while. It took a while to shoot, but we finished the last half or last quarter of February 2020. I went straight from there to Another Life and was on camera within like five days. Then we got shut down like a week later.

Can you talk a little bit about what it's like working with Pedro Pascal?

It's so great. Pedro just has the ability with his voice, because largely you take away an actor's face and what do we have? You have your voice. You have your movement. You have things like that, but you can't use your facial expressions. So you have to be very purposeful with the movements, but also with your voice. If he were to show up and not give you a performance inside the helmet, you'd be like, "Well, that didn't work." Because when he is there, it changes the performances around him exponentially because he knows the character so well. He's just such a good actor.

He's one of the kindest human beings I've ever met. He is a big Battlestar Galactica fan, so there were days where he was like, "Hey, hey, hey, come in my room. I want to talk to you. I want to talk to you." And it was about Battlestar, so it was quite funny. We actually before this had mutual friends in common, so I've been excited to work with him for a very long time.

What it was like wearing Mandalorian armor for the first time

What it's like working on the Volume, The Mandalorian's big digital set?

It's crazy. I mean I think everything is sort of out there, because the behind-the-scenes [documentary] is the best way to see it. But working on the Volume is one of the most intense things I've ever done in my life, because when you're there, you feel like you're there.

When we were on Battlestar Galactica and we were in the Vipers and they were like getting ready to shoot us out into space, it was basically the crew pushing you. You were inside Styrofoam. It was really an exercise in using your imagination. It was like one step above sitting in a cardboard box as a child. I'm kidding. They did beautiful work. It was amazing.

However, when you're on the Volume and we're doing scenes — like, when we were staring at the Gozanti freighter, and we were all standing on top of the Razor Crest and talking about the plan, I started to get seasick because the Volume is moving. And you feel yourself start to sway, and they've got us all like harnessed in because we're standing on top of the Razor Crest. And you could fall over. There were a couple of time where I was like, "I've got to sit down. Oh my God, this is crazy."

When we did the fight in first episode, where we came in and rescue Mando on the deck of the fishing boat, the boats in the harbor were going up and down as we were standing on this big boat. The horizon is going behind boats. It was one of the coolest experiences that I've ever had in my life. You're still acting, but you don't have to use your imagination at that point because you're like, "I am here, like, I'm here." It's amazing.

And as soon as you walk in the door on the stage, it's a big gaggle of people. I swear, it's like 15 or 20 people. They're all on independent computers controlling the Volume. And they're there all day and they're moving it. It's absolutely the coolest thing ever.

And you got to wear Mandalorian armor. What was sort of the fitting for that like? Was it any different from a regular costume fitting?

Well, it was cool because I've never been a part of a project that had a big enough budget that I got to be scanned. Normally, I go in and they're like, "All right, we're going to plaster you today," and it's like eight million hours of being plastered for your costume. And I just walked in. I stood on this thing in my character's shoes and a bra and underwear and they scanned me. It was literally like five seconds. And they're like, "Great, see you later." And I was like, "That's it?" That's it. And they built my costume off of that. It was pretty, pretty amazing.

But the first day that I put it on was the craziest experience because I was there with Dave. And he and I then went and showed Favreau. But you could see, Dave and I, we were just like kids in a candy store. I was like, "Oh, my god." I've been playing this character for 10 years. She's been animated. Like, "This is so crazy." I looked exactly like her. And it felt like a birth to him, this character that he had drawn has all of a sudden crowned and been birthed. And he was like, "This is amazing." It was one of the neatest experiences for both of us. I was so glad that he had it.

Then we went in and we showed Jon. He was very excited, but then he got mister-on-point. He was like, "Well, we need to do this. We need to do this. Should we do this? What are your thoughts on that? Should we do this? Guys, on task here. Should we do this? Should we do this? Let's calm down." He's like a voice of reason over there.

Where Katee Sackhoff would like to see Bo-Katan go in the future

When you were cast on Battlestar, there was a pretty vocal group of fans that was pretty pissed about Starbuck being a woman. That seemed to change once the show came out, but looking at the season finale of Mandalorian, and it's you and Mercedes and Gina and Ming-Na Wen driving almost all of the action, and people almost didn't notice. As a sci-fi action star, have you seen the attitude towards women in that space change?

Absolutely. Yeah. Well, first and foremost, one of the reasons why Starbuck worked was that we never mentioned the fact that she was a woman. She was just a well-rounded, interesting, creative character in a world that was fun to watch. She just happened to be a woman. The reason why that scene at the end of Mandalorian worked was they didn't talk about the fact that they were women. They were just the best people for the job and they were there. And they did it, and they succeeded. We didn't stop to be like, "Female power, woo-hoo! You take the lead because you're the prettiest!" You know what I mean? This was just the crew that was available.

And I think that what's changed, not only the genre but in our industry, is that we don't feel like we have to quantify a female's existence anymore by saying, "Well, she's a woman, she's a 'strong female character.'" We don't have to do that anymore. Now, it's just like, "Isn't that awesome to watch? Holy crap, that was amazing." That's not to take away from and negate the fact that they're obviously women. I think that's what's changed the most in the industry — we have so many amazing women to watch.

Look at Nomadland. Look at Frances McDormand. I mean, that performance, that is a strong woman. They never talk about the fact that it's unsafe for her to be living this life because she's a woman. They don't talk about it. They show the difficulties for everyone living this life, men and women. That was so beautiful to me because it's like I think it allows us as viewers to really just get lost in something and not go, "Oh, there's the explanation there." 

Can you say anything about what's in store for Bo-Katan going forward?

I honestly wish that I could tell you that I knew something. I really don't know. I know where we ended and that's all that I have. I can only use my imagination and hope that we see some pretty cool stuff, but I have no idea.

Where would you like to see her go?

Oh my gosh. It's hard to say because she started in a place that was... She wasn't necessarily on the right side of things. She thought she was. I think she's always had her people in mind. But her growth to get to where she's at has been quite dramatic. When you are the second born and your sister is ruling, you never dream that you're going to have to take this job. Because the idea that she would no longer be with us is unthinkable. And then that happens.

So how do you take a person who is trained as a warrior, who never thought that they would have to lead nor wanted to lead, and get them to a place where they have to lead because it's for the people? And I find that to be so interesting, because I think that she is a warrior at heart. That's who she is. That's who she's always been, and we haven't seen that part of her yet. I want to see why she thinks she's the right ruler, and how far she'll go, and what that looks like.

Just because you think you're right and just because you think you're the right person to rule, that doesn't mean you actually are. So I want to see that struggle because if she really does care about her people, she may not be the right person. I think there are so many different places to go, so we'll have to see what those guys have in their minds.

Katee Sackhoff shares her all-time favorite action scene

Of all the action scenes you've done over your career, what's your favorite?

Oh my gosh, there are so many. There are so many. I did this huge fight scene on the pilot of Longmire that they actually cut out, where I tackled a guy who was like seven feet tall. I don't know why they cut it out. He was massive. I literally had to crawl up like a spider monkey. And it was so much fun. I got to take him down to the ground and then choke him out. He was throwing me against cars.

It was so much fun and it never saw the light of day. And I was like, "Why?" Because I think there was another scene in the pilot where I tackled somebody else and Rob had to pull me off of them. So I think maybe it was too many scenes of me getting pulled off of men. I loved all the driving stuff we used to get to do on Longmire. I love the fact that for the most part, we did all our own driving stunts. They let us do a lot of stuff. Not crazy stuff, but I loved it. That show had so many stunts that weren't stunts. I got to ride a horse and do the running after. And the gun work was so much fun on that show.

There was a fight sequence between Tricia and I in Battlestar that was really fun to shoot, and I loved it. I really loved it. The fight scene with Jaime Sommers in the Bionic Woman pilot was pretty epic. We shot that for like two days. I dislocated my knee on that one. That was a really fun fight sequence, and it looked so killer because it was in the rain. It was just amazing. That whole fight sequence in that rain was just amazing. That's probably my favorite one.

It took me a while to get there. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I've been doing this as long as I have, because I feel like I'm still 17 years old.

Do you have any souvenirs that you've taken from sets that are still particular favorites?

I have my flight suit from Battlestar still and my [Mandalorian] helmet. Those are pretty amazing. I have Vic Moretti's entire wardrobe from Longmire, which I love. Yeah, I love that. I'm hoping that I can go back and do some more episodes for The Flash, and I can manage to get out of there with my gauntlet because that would be pretty cool. That's my goal. [Gestures to her shelf, which is full of props] The next time we do an interview, if the glove is up there, you know I stole it.

Is there anything about The Mandalorian that you haven't been asked about yet or you haven't gotten to talk about yet that you'd like to?

Oh my gosh. I think that we've talked about everything that I can talk about. It's such a great show. As a fan of the original movies, the show feels tonally familiar. I love that, as a fan of the movies. I love that. It feels very much like it used to. I love it. I love the practical puppetry. I love it all. It's so cool.