Transcript of a press phone conference with Co-Creator Joe Mallozzi and stars Melissa O’Neil, Anthony Lemke and Marc Bendavid.
But, my question to you, Melissa, is actually something that Joe had said to me. He was saying that you guys kind of learned what was going on along with your characters and that you guys would like, you know, read your scripts on the phone right away to find out what happen. I’m curious, not knowing ahead of time, did that make it more difficult for the role? Or how did you feel about that?
Melissa O’Neil: I actually loved it. Being a first-time performer on television, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I – 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, you know, we were – we were discovering what was happening and how to interact with each other in the exact way that our characters would be doing it, you know. We were just piecing it together as it came to us. But, I think that there is a great bit of truth, you know, that’s happening on screen that – you know, we’ve all done our homework to prepare our characters as much as we could.
And can you talk about kind of your – the first time you worked with the cast because you guys have really great chemistry together. Was that instantaneous?
Melissa O’Neil: I think that that has a lot to do with Joe and Vanessa and Lisa Parasyn – what they did with casting, you know. We do get along very well – all of us. We have a lot of fun on and off screen, and I think that that has a lot to – the credit goes to the lovely people that chose us.
“Dark Matter” is based on a graphic novel published by Dark Horse. How much of the content from the graphic novel can we expect to see on the series?
Joseph Mallozzi: You can expect to see all of it. Actually, the comic book was based on, basically, the pilot that we have envisioned. So, you know, it’s almost – you know, if you read the first two issues of the comic book, it’s almost, word for word, the first episode of the series. And in episode – the issues three and four of the comic book are very close to episode two. So, you know, in terms of spoilers, you guys are going to get a sneak peek at episodes one and two by reading the first two issues of the comic book or, you know, as in the paperback. But then, after that, all bets are off.
For those who aren’t familiar with the comic book, how would you describe the series?
Joseph Mallozzi: You know, I would describe it as a sci-fi series with a cable sensibility. You know, I’ve always been a big fan of, you know, cable shows with twists and turns and surprises, you know, that always leave you at the end of the episode going, “Oh my god. I can’t wait until next – you know, next week” and, you know, you get to the boards, you discuss them or you go to work and, you know, it’s the first thing you talk about in the morning. That’s the show I wanted to create. So, you know, it’s something that, you know, a lot of – a lot of setups but a lot of payoffs along the way, you know, the mystery at its heart. It has a sense of humor, kind of a – it’s a fun, ship-based sci-fi (fuse) which something, I think, fans have been dying for. But, at the end of the day, it’s really about the characters and this great group – this great, you know, group made up of this crew. And, you know, I’ve often said viewers tune in for the hook but they stay for the characters. And we’ve got an incredibly colorful bunch of characters in this show.
How would you describe the series for the people who are unfamiliar with the graphic novel?
Melissa O’Neil: Yes. I think that there is – the show – it’s – obviously, it’s – there is no singing in it. But, it’s – it has a quality like I want to call it a space opera. Do you know what I mean? There is just so many wonderful things happening and the story lines are fantastic. And the fact that we’re an ensemble, you get to see a little snippet of everybody’s past and where they might go. And I think that’s really exciting. Everyone – there is – there is a person for an audience member, you know. There is – there is a character for any kind of audience member out there. It’s great.
Joseph Mallozzi: Yes. One of the – one of the things that I was really heartened by was, you know, just getting reactions from people who watched the show for the first time. And they all respond to different characters, which is great. And, you know – you know, the sound guys and the editors all – you know, when they first watched it, they all responded. They love Jodelle’s character, you know. There were those who love Roger’s character, who love Anthony’s character. I mean, you know, those two early reviews, you know, super positive reviews – they were – they loved Melissa’s character. So, you know, it’s a testament of the fact that there are so many colorful characters, very, you know, different characters, but also a testament to our fantastic cast who have brought them to life.
Tony Tellado: Hi, guys. And, Joe, congratulations. I’m really happy for you.
Joseph Mallozzi: Thanks, Tony.
Tony Tellado: In particular with you, Joe, I know you have a plan as to what you want to do. Is there – is that a rigid plan with the series as far as the art? Or as these guys kind of inhabit the characters a little more, is there a plan to kind of maybe deviate a little bit based on who they do their performance?
Joseph Mallozzi: Sure. That – you know, there is always, you know, room for movement. I mean, I have kind of the general idea of where I want to go. You know, just in terms of going to season – you know, the first season, you know, we were super prepared. We have the majority of our scripts already done. And then, you know, we made adjustments along the way. And, you know, one of the things that we are – we are – you know, we are doing – and as we build stories for season two, again, assuming we get season two – but, I’m fairly confident – is, you know, just going off what the cast has done. And, you know, essentially, you create these characters, you know, they’re on the page and then you hand them off and, then, they really come to life. And, you know, it’s – you know, you create the characters, you know, you see on the page. But, you know, the actors bring so much to them in develop them and they re-evolve in their performance and as you inform moving forward, it gives you ideas. I mean, you know, a lot of our ideas for season two – these stories for season two come about as a result of something like they could be – the standout moments that these guys have brought to the show and just the types of relationships and the chemistry.
Tony Tellado: That’s great. And, guys, for the actors, you know, it’s kind of like everybody always got along. And it’s great that in your show, you guys don’t get along. And what I liked in the pilot was there was a little bit of debate that you guys have amongst each other based on your characters. Kind of talk about that aspect of the show that’s a little different from most of the space-bound shows.
Melissa O’Neil: I had – I had a great start with Paul, our other writer and executive producer, about this. And he was talking about how when they were developing – or Joe – like this type of moment – that 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 – and that they wanted to bring back this idea that, you know, 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, you know. 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 dark essentially on this, you know, life preserver in the middle of space, our beloved ship, you know, how do you – how do you figure out how to co-exist with these essentially – you know, six other strangers? It’s wonderful. Male: In episode – yes. Sorry. I was just saying that in episode one or two, like, you know, Roger’s character points out, you know – you know, we’re on our own. 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 else – who knows who else we – who have got to come after – who are 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, you know, they only have each other to rely upon. It’s really the most extreme of dysfunctional families. Like it or not, you know, they’re – you know, they’re family.
Tony Tellado: And, Marc, I already see like a little bit of a moral compass for the show in your character, a little bit in One. Marc Bendavid: Yes. I hope – I hope you do. Well, the interesting thing, from the standpoint of getting along, that there’s so many reasons presented so fast for us not to trust each other. But, this encounter with our eventual – I don’t want to give too much away – with the android is that, you saw, 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 less or not and can I, you know – and that question gets asked in life or death situations all the way – all the way to episode 13. And I – 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, you know, maybe go out – go out getting along the other way – go out of it backward, inside-out, you know, shoot first and ask questions later. So, yes. Male: I think that …
Tony Tellado: I was just going to say that I thought you’re definitely channeling a little bit of Han Solo in there. Anthony Lemke: Well, if – you know, I’m flattered that that would be – that would be a reference to Three when people watch it. It would – you know, growing up as a kid, that was definitely a boyhood idol, you know, the Han Solo character and not so much there as in Ford but literally the Han Solo character. So, to be able to play this character was, you know, really, honestly, a bit of a dream come true. It’s a character that I feel very comfortable in. And what I like about it, you know, exactly – we laugh because, you know, he is – he is a jerk. He is an arrogant prick in a lot of ways. But, he isn’t what he seems to be, which is the case for absolutely everybody in the show. They aren’t what they seem to be. And I think it’s a testament to Joe and Paul’s writing that, yes, you’re right to pick up on the fact that, you know, one is definitely the moral compass of the show. But, just because it’s the moral thing to do doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. And I think Joe and Paul played with that brilliantly well where they don’t let you – they don’t let you side with any one character for the entire episode – for the entire season. They just don’t do it. I mean, it’s – you know, where Three – listen – Three runs off of the mound and comes up with a crazy old man or 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.
Tony Tellado: Yes. Absolutely.
Melissa O’Neil: Yes.
Tony Tellado: The pilot rocked. I thought it was great and the WTF moment at the end was I didn’t see it coming. So, that was great.
Melissa O’Neil: Nice.
Tony Tellado: So, that was cool. Good luck, guys. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
Special Thanks To The SyFy Channel
PODCAST: Christophe Beck
“DC in D.C.,” a pop culture event open to the public in Washington, D.C. during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend that brings together the worlds of entertainment and public service to illuminate the story of America and discuss topical current issues through the lens of comics and Super Heroes. .....