Aaron Douglas – How He Dealt With Tragedy During Battlestar Galactica

Aaron Douglas is best known for his role as Galen Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica. He lost his wife to breast cancer during the series.

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

Aaron Douglas

Actor Aaron Douglas has been through the good and most definitely the bad. The good has revolved mainly around his acting career, while the bad has sadly affected his personal life. Through it all, though, Douglas has persevered, continuing to carry on. Here’s where Aaron Douglas has been and what he’s doing now that Battlestar Galactica is firmly in the rearview.


Aaron Douglas

During season one of Battlestar Galactica, Aaron Douglas’ wife Debbie was fighting breast cancer. She lost her battle as season one ended, throwing Douglas for a loop.

He told GeekChocolate about that time in his life, “In the pilot I look like my thinner younger brother. Well, what happened was, after season one, I lost my wife to breast cancer, and then halfway through season three, I am a hockey goalie, and I tore my groin really badly.”

“So the death of my wife was a huge turning point, and I tried salve the wound with a fine scotch, and then when I tore my groin, I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t exercise, so watching the Chief getting heavier and heavier is literally a product of me not being able to do anything but lie on the couch and eat. So that’s the cause of a lot of the weight gain. I’m trying to get it off now, but it’s really difficult, because my leg doesn’t work quite properly. But I’m trying.”


If one is lucky as an actor, then landing a major role can be career-defining. Aaron Douglas found his partway through his career with Battlestar Galactica, which we will definitely cover soon. But for the bulk of his early career, Douglas played bit roles, very small and almost unnoticeable.

He explained in a 2011 interview with GeekChocolate just how these roles came to be. “Yeah, I was a reader for auditions, so I read the other side of the dialogue from whoever is auditioning, and so a lot of times you get to the end of the session and the director looks over and says “You know that cop role with three lines, do you want to do it?” “Sure, yeah, I’ll do it.” “Alright, that’s it.” It’s as simple as that. I get lots of work from being a reader. Built my resume on it for sure.” It is definitely a unique way to resume build but one that has worked time and again for Aaron Douglas.

The roles were minor, but Aaron Douglas got started on shows such as Hollywood Off-Ramp, Cold Squad, The Outer Limits, Dark Angel, and Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. He appeared twice on Stargate SG-1. Again, his roles were minor and they continued to be.

He got roles on TV series like American Dreams, Breaking News, and Just Cause as well as the movies Love and Treason, Stealing Sinatra, Final Destination 2, Before I Say Goodbye, X2: X-Men United, and The Lizzie McGuire Movie.

It seemed that all of his minor roles, ability to read dialogue during auditions, and wearing many different hats were about to pay off. It wasn’t intended to happen the way it happened, but Aaron Douglas was not complaining.


Chief Tyrol

Aaron Douglas’ role as Chief Galen Tyrol was meant to be minor, something Douglas was very accustomed to. But it wasn’t even Tyrol who he first auditioned for. He told CNN, “No, no I originally auditioned for the part of Apollo (Capt. Lee Adama) which Jamie Bamber got, which is good because Bamber has to go to the gym and I never did. That was good for me. And my callback was for [the role of] Lt. Gaeta, which went to Alessandro, who’s great. He’s a great actor and he can do the tech talk really well. When they got to the end of the casting there was just no one for the Chief, this Tyrol character that they had left, and David Eick [one of the creators of the show] said, “Why don’t we get Aaron to do this?” because David had seen my auditions and quite liked me. So, they offered me this and it grew into what it was.”

Confirming Aaron Douglas’ assertion, series creator Ronald D. Moore said Chief Tyrol was intended to be a much smaller role that included a brief fifteen lines in the miniseries. But they were so impressed with Douglas’ reading and his ability to ad-lib lines that they decide to expand his role.

The Battlestar Galactica miniseries was meant to test the waters for a new show. It worked. The miniseries consisted of two 90-minute episodes and went over well enough to bring on the Battlestar Galactica series. The cast of the mini-series filled the cast of the series to include Aaron Douglas.


Battlestar Galactica
Aaron Douglas on Battlestar Galactica

One of the main storylines involving Aaron Douglas was when he found out that his character was actually a Cylon (robot). He was unaware of the fact, something he spoke about.

Aaron Douglas says, “Officially, the day before we started shooting it. But we shot that scene in December, and I had seen some papers that I wasn’t supposed to see over at [director] Michael Rymer’s house, in September. So I had to sit very quietly for three months, not say a word, furious the whole time. And constantly walking past Ron Moore and David Eick, who are the creators of the show, and say, “So, anything coming up for the Chief?” And they’d say, “Oh no, just fixing vipers, just the usual.” Just lying to me! So we finally found out officially and I got Ron [Moore] on the phone, yelled at him for five minutes, and then he talked me off the ledge and convinced me that it was a good thing, and he was right.”

Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas as Chief Tyrol

The series was a boon for Douglas. Battlestar Galactica lasted four seasons but it wasn’t just the mini-series and series that Aaron Douglas was part of when it came to Battlestar Galactica.

He was also involved with Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance, Battlestar Galactica: Razor, and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Battlestar Galactica was very good to him. And while it was good to him, he suffered greatly during the first season.


Aaron Douglas ended his time on everything Battlestar Galactica back in 2009. Since that time, he has returned to his earlier ways, being small parts of TV shows and movies.

He did find bigger parts on the shows Hemlock Grove, The Killing, The Returned, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and Imposters, but for the most part, his roles have been short and sweet.

Aaron Douglas now

Now 49-years-old, Aaron Douglas has lately been seen in Van Helsing and Garage Sale Mysteries. His approach to acting hasn’t failed him to this point, no reason to change it now. Of course, if another “Battlestar Galactica” appears on the horizon, Douglas would certainly jump on it.