Image courtesy Syfy

Dark Matter: The One, Two, Three Interview

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Not so long ago in a galaxy right here, Three If By Space had the good fortune to be a part of a press call with Dark Matter creator Joseph Mallozzi along with actors Marc Bendavid (One), Melissa O’Neil (Two), and Anthony Lemke (Three).  It was a really fun conversation and we learned a LOT about what promises to be your favorite new show.  If you want to learn more, read on and try to contain your excitement.

This writing consists of interview questions for Bendavid, O’Neil,and Lemke.  For all the inquiring Q’s and juicy A’s aimed at Mr. Mallozzi, click on over to Joseph Mallozzi Dishes Dark Matter.  For all the pretty pictures, click over to Dark Matter: A Shipload of Photos  Now, sit back and try to relax, because you’re going to hear some pretty great stories from this space-mad trio!

WARNING:  This post was processed at a plant that also processes SPOILERS.  If you feel you may react negatively to SPOILERS, please ask your mom to take your computer away so you’re not tempted to read on.

Joe (Mallozzi) said you guys learned what was going on along with your characters. What was it like not knowing ahead of time?

(O’Neil) I actually loved it. Being a first-time performer on television, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I thought that it was such a lovely thing to encounter that we were going through what our characters were going through. At the same time, we were discovering what was happening and how to interact with each other in the exact way that our characters would be. We were just piecing it together as it came to us. But, I think that there is a great bit of truth that’s happening on screen, that we’ve all done our homework to prepare our characters as much as we could.

(Bendavid) It might seem sort of contrary to what you often hear actors saying about preparing their role, but I found it really liberating and unusual because there’s very little to go on. There’s very little to prepare other than a kind of openness and to what I would react like myself to these people in these situations. So, there is no history. You know, at one point, I asked, should I watch every episode of “Stargate” or “Star Trek” ever produced. And he (Mallozzi) said, “No.”

And it seems like to be able to come to work and, in essence, giving the other characters and the other actors in the cast a real big say into how One ends up, because he is really torn until he encounters Two and until he encounters Three and the rest of the cast. So, I actually – I like it because it meant that we have to be on our toes, listening to each other and just seeing where the scripts took us and making a lot of decisions beforehand. So, for me, I really enjoyed that, actually.

(Lemke) Yes. I think one of the things you learn very early on in your acting career or when you’re studying acting is that preparation is key. You should definitely answer all the questions about your character. You should have done all of that homework and, then, when you show up on the first day of shooting, you should forget it all and just play the role and play the reality of the moment because that’s going to be there.

And so, in a way, the “forget it all” part is where we started. And just like Marc said, it’s incredibly liberating and we were sort of discovering things about ourselves as characters that – well, I can’t – I mean, listen, we did have a lot of scripts, to be fair. We had a fair number of scripts moving forward. So, by the first frame of camera, we were able to read three or four, five, six, seven episodes ahead, so at least we knew that as our back story. “Listen, this is an interesting piece of information that my character doesn’t have on day one, but me as the actor does have.” So, there is a little bit of that forward prep that was probably influencing our day one shooting decisions as well.

 

Can you talk about your characters and what you like about them and what challenges there are in playing them? 

(Bendavid) My character, One, is really enjoyable to play, for me at least, because he is surrounded by people who have some kind of quick proficiency at something and he sort of is always falling on his face, like he always makes a mess of himself. You never see any malice or vindictiveness really in him. But, for me, it was fun to be around all these sort of like sexy, lightning-fast action figures and sort of be the one whose jet pack seems to be broken. For me, that was fun.

(O’Neil) You know what’s interesting? One time, we were doing a cast read-through and we were sitting around the table room, and I think it was Anthony who remarks that most people who are actors are actually the younger sibling or the only child in a family. And as we went through on the table, everyone was either a younger sibling or an only child, except for me. It definitely caters well to who Two is in that she very organically and actually takes on this leadership role that everyone seems to just accept. She was so much fun. She is direct and straightforward and she gets to kick a lot of ass.

(Lemke) If you heard everything that Marc said about One, that’s pretty much the opposite of Three. And if I could extend the jet pack analogy, I’m the guy with the jet pack that works, but doesn’t always know the right thing to do with it. And that’s the fun of Three’s character, that he is impetuous and he says what other people may or may not be thinking, but certainly what he is thinking that he shouldn’t say. And it’s a lot of fun to play that kind of character and especially within the context of a crew who – you know, each of us is so well-defined. And, so, to be able to play that role within this team is a lot of fun.

 

Were there any standout stunts or, perhaps, even injuries that are most memorable for you from the season? 

(Lemke) Well, I’m missing a leg. But, that’s episode 10. So, when you get there.

(O’Neil) So, there’s a huge fight that we do in episode 10 or 11. There was this flying move where I lunge and travel like 4 feet across the floor to get to my opponent. In the rehearsal, I nicked the girl’s toe like she was a little bit too close or I went too far and I did this – it was practically a Home Alone fall, which is – it’s named after it, where the guy goes right up into the air and you got one leg up when you land. And I landed on the floor in our medical room which has all of these intricate geometric patterns on it. And it imprinted onto my palm and it didn’t go away. There was this massive blood blister on my palm in this beautiful like geometric print. There’s a picture of it on my Instagram.

(Bendavid) We got to this beautiful set and we all sort of gawked at in admiration. The floor of it was, like Melissa said, beautifully intricate with geometric shapes, carved out of hard plastic. And when we got to work on the first day, Joe and Paul said, “You come off stages barefoot and we need to shoot this scene of you and Melissa running down the hallway of the ship,” which because it’s broken, is dark and covered with little bits of spark and fire, and we need to shoot it for the entire day. And, so, by the end of the day, Melissa and I had sort of hobbled ourselves with bloody feet running back and forth across the hall. [Melissa] never complained about it once and, you know, I’m still harping about my bloody feet six months later.

(Lemke) You know, in terms of bruises, like the ego is probably the biggest thing that got bruised in a fantastic fight with Ruby Rose that my character has. One of the things that John Stead does so brilliantly well is he is a great fight coordinator and, to be honest, we don’t actually have a lot of injury stories.

And that’s thanks to John Stead, you know, his preparation. He will never let anybody get in there without 100 percent preparation. If he feels like someone may be getting a little tired or sloppy, a stunt person goes in there. He is fantastic. And he tells stories with his fights and his choreography as good as, if not better, than anyone I’ve ever worked with. And there is a fun fight between Three and the Ruby Rose character. And that’s the one that – yes. Well, I’ll just leave that one up there as probably my highlight fight of the entire season for my character.

 

It’s great that in your show, your characters don’t get along. Could you talk about that aspect of the show that’s a little different from most of the space-based shows? 

(O’Neil) A lot of sci-fi shows in that past have talked about how humans were – you know, it was a bit utopian society – everyone was getting along. We wanted to bring back this idea that the conflict isn’t going to come from external sources. It’s going to come from within each other as we’re fighting for resources; we’re fighting to stay alive when we are not on the planet anymore. We are in space, and I think that that’s – it’s so honest and great and real. And it allows us to be humans because we’re not always going to get along because we don’t in life. And trying to navigate that when you’re stuck, essentially, on this life preserver in the middle of space, our beloved ship, how do you – how do you figure out how to co-exist with these essentially six other strangers? It’s wonderful.

(Lemke) We have no memories, so, basically, we’ve got our former enemies coming after us or our former victims coming after us – the galactic authorities. Who knows who else is going to come after us, none of which we’ll see coming because we don’t remember them. And at the end of the day, they only have each other to rely upon. It’s really the most extreme of dysfunctional families. Like it or not, they’re family.

(Bendavid) The interesting thing, from the standpoint of getting along, is that there’s so many reasons presented so fast for us not to trust each other. But, this encounter with the android, it didn’t turn out well. We find out things at the end of the episode that would suggest that we’re maybe not going to be compatible. And, at the same time, it becomes clear that with all the people who are after us, the only way we stand even a slim chance of survival is getting along. And, so, it’s constant play which continues throughout the season between who is this person and what do I need to know about them to trust them and can I trust them? And that question gets asked in life or death situations all the way – all the way to episode 13. And I think we learned that that kind of negotiation – you know, it’s not important to get along if you can trust – if you can trust one another and go out getting along the other way – go out of it backward, inside-out, you know, shoot first and ask questions later. So, yes.

(Lemke) Three runs off at the mouth and comes up with crazy schemes, but some of which are based in a very pragmatic sense of survival. And it may not be the moral thing to do, but it may just be the thing that allows you to be moral tomorrow because you’ll still be alive. And, I think, the dialogue between morality and this more utilitarian vision of our existence is one of – again, one of the really interesting elements of this show. And, you know, definitely, One is on one side, Three is on the other side and Two – I mean, it’s interesting. Melissa, you can talk to that. But, Two I would not say picks either of those camps. And Two sort of says, “Listen. There is a right moment for everything.” And it’s fascinating to watch that interplay.

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Dark Matter premieres Friday, June 12 at 10/9c on Syfy

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Tom Gardiner