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Dark Matter - Exclusive Interview With Joseph Mallozzi Part 2

Here is part two of my interview with Dark Matter Executive Producer/Co-Creator Joseph Mallozzi. In this part he discusses the newest additions to the cast and addresses some of the backlash over One's untimely death. He also may drop some interesting tidbits about some upcoming episodes.

STV: Now there is something interesting I’ve noticed about sci-fi versus other genres, and particularly in your show, there is a lot more diversity in terms of race and sex. Why do you think that is?

JM: Maybe it’s a hope for a future where diversity is a fact and no one makes a big deal out of it. Whenever people ask me about diversity, I’m like “I mean, it’s great”, and in my mind when I’m casting, I just reflect the world around me. I’m always reluctant to get into these types of conversations because I find that whenever we talk about “that was a great diverse casting choice”, I feel like it really detracts from the performer who won the role because they were really good, not because we were looking to cast diverse. In fact, from the very beginning, we opened up a lot of the roles to all genders and ethnicities and just picked the best actor. I mentioned Roger Cross, and he’s terrific as Six. He won the role because he’s a fantastic actor and he was perfect for the role. Same with Melissa. In my mind, when I created the character, I always imagined her as Asian, simply because I grew up watching a lot of Anime and there were a lot of strong female protagonists and I just thought “that’s what I’d love to see in live action”. And as it turns out, she gave the best performance and she’s fantastic. In the case of Nyx and Melanie Liburd, it’s the same thing: She’s fantastic. I’m very happy we have such an amazingly diverse cast. At the end of the day, I think it’s because it reflects society and hopefully there’ll come a time where it’s not such a big deal or not that notable. They all won the roles on the fact that they are the best actors for the role.

STV: You have an amazing cast, they constantly impress.

JM: Yeah, they’re all great. Also, when I started to cast the show, one of the things I looked for in the auditions was a sense of humor. And all the characters were funny in different ways and you’ll see that through Season Two as well. We did a lot of that in Stargate, using humor to diffuse situations of helping the audience connect with characters, but everyone is funny in their own way. Three and the Android more overtly, but there are really great subtle moments with Two, and Four, and Six, of course. And Jodelle is fantastic as well, so they individually are a fantastic cast.

STV: Speaking of the cast, this season you did add two new cast members. Can you tease anything about those characters and the casting process to get Melanie [Liburd] and Shaun [Sipos]?

JM: In regards to Melanie, the Nyx character you see in her first encounter with Two that they essentially fight to a standstill, which is really crazy when you think about it. I was checking out the boards and some people were complaining “Well, this is ridiculous. I mean, she’s a bio-engineered human and no one would be able to stand up to her” and that’s true. In fact, Two does say, when they meet up in sim yard, the fact that she held her own against her doesn’t make sense on the surface, but it’ll all make sense when you find out more about Nyx’s character. As for the casting, we looked through many, many, many auditions and she reminded me, in many ways, of Melissa in that we got her tape and watched it. And we were told that Melissa’s never done television before. Melanie’s a bit more seasoned, but I mean, she hasn’t had any recurring roles, or had any recurring roles at the time. Both of them just kind of popped on screen and we realized “Wow” and what a great opportunity and it was one of those opportunities where you’re like “Quick, cast her before somebody else does” and we did.

In the case of Devon, he’s kind of a handsome, amiable, soft-spoken guy. He’s a medic, and in that respect he will be very useful onboard the ship, but he hides a dark secret that we’re going to be made privy to later in the season. It’s not all happiness and sunshine as it would appear with Devon.

STV: Devon seems kind of out of place. He seems like…I’m not going to say he’s taking One’s place in that respect, but he kind of has that same aura to him where he just doesn’t seem like he belonged in prison.

JM: The reasons for how he ended up in prison will be made clear later in the season as well.

STV: You mentioned Two and Nyx and how they hit it off right away. Melissa and Melanie have ridiculous chemistry and they made Nyx’s introduction just pop off the screen, it was amazing. Did you chemistry test them at all or was that just a happy accident?

JM: No, it was a happy accident. There is a lot to be said about chemistry testing, but as I said, when we saw the audition, we knew that we had found our Nyx and, as it turns out, we made the right call because she and Melissa are truly great onscreen together.

STV: I could be reading too much into this, but the way that Nyx sought out Three, probably knowing that Two was out there and going to come and defend him, was she seeking to test Two? Do they have some sort of shared past or intersecting history?

JM: I will say no comment to the latter. But, to the former, I will say that she pretty much says “Hey, I heard the crew of the Raza was here” and she was testing Three. And it stands to reason [that] she’s been in and out of prison for much of her early life, we’re going to find out and she would know that by testing Three, she would bring the wrath of the rest of the crew on her. In testing Three, she wanted to test all of them.

STV: Was she trying to get on their radar? Was she trying to get in their good graces? Or is it just the way it played out?

JM: Again, that’ll remain to be seen. She could have been just testing them as sort of how the top dog would test any other challengers who come in. She could have been intentionally testing them to get on their good sides, so that she knows they are a great way to possibly escape. She could throw in with them and have the best chance at escaping with them. Or she did it because she wants to escape because she wants to get onboard the ship. Maybe she has nefarious intent. Again, that’s something we’re going to have to find out. I mean, at the end of the second episode, Reynaud (Inga Cadranel) asks “Is our asset onboard the ship?” and her right-hand man Hughes says “Yes” and she says “Good”. Asset, maybe, you assume might be a reference to Five, but when you think about it, asset means…she says something that going after an asset doesn’t really sound like a reference to Five. It could well be a reference to someone else. I’m going to leave it at that.

STV: And we have those three new suspects so it really could be anyone.

JM: It could be. Or, there is also Six, who is always a possibility, but I just threw that out to complicate things.

STV: How long do you have the series planned out for? In an ideal scenario, how long would it run for?

JM: We’ll do five seasons. I’ve often said I approach every season as an installment of a book series with a beginning, middle, and end. Even though, for instance, Season One had a cliffhanger ending, I thought it was somewhat apropos that we start with these characters discovering that they’re terrible criminals and end with them essentially being taken off to jail. While it wouldn’t have been, obviously, an ideal ending, it would have been, in my mind, kind of a fitting ending nevertheless had we not got a second season. But we did get the second season so Season Two will explore, they’ll be more proactive, as TV executives like to say, they’ll be going out and their pasts will be coming back to haunt them. Season Two will have very much to do with their role in the grander scheme of things and this idea of a potential corporate war, and it’s something that’s hinted at over the first couple of episodes. And something that kind of seeded in Season One with the Traugott Corp and the research into the white-hole technology that they allow Mikkei to test for them and destroy their research facility and suddenly everyone’s getting very nervous. The G.A. is trying to head off this kind of corporate war by essentially pinning the destruction of the Mikkei research facility on both Traugott and Mikkei and in order to do that and weaken the corporations ahead of the corporate war, they need our crew to implicate themselves, something our crew is not willing to do.

STV: When Three met with Truffault, she actually ended up giving him something to help them get out of the prison. Was that just self-preservation, getting the crew out of a position where they could incriminate both the corporations and themselves?

JM: Well, she does say to them “You guys haven’t talked”, which is a disappointment because she wants to take some of the heat off Mikkei. Because, as far as publically, it seems that it would appear that since this was a Mikkei research facility that Mikkei were doing research into white-hole technology, like banned, illegal research, and so they’re feeling the heat. And if our crew were to say basically “No, we actually stole that white-hole bomb from Traugott” then the heat would shift to Traugott and that’s what Mikkei was kind of hoping they would do. Even though they aren’t talking, Traugott is getting kind of nervous so essentially they tell the Warden “In order to ensure they don’t talk, you need to kill them”, and the Warden tells the guard “Traugott worries me a lot more than the G.A.”, so he has to follow through on those plans. Truffault essentially realizes that if we leave them here to languish, sooner or later Traugott is going to get to them and they’re kind of our ace in the hole in a way and they’re kind of an asset, an ally, [that] they can use down the line, so she ends up giving him the means to affect an escape. So all these little pieces come together, Truffault, Nyx, Arax, and they learn from Four with regard to the sonic disabler to the ability with the nanites and the Ishida shuttle. They have to put a lot of pieces together to pull off the escape and Truffault’s gift was a crucial piece of that plan.

STV: I’m assuming she’s going to try and call in that favor at some point down the line.

JM: This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Truffault.

STV: Now that they are back on the Raza, they can kind of start getting back to the lives they had before this whole prison incident. We saw last season that Two and Three had some one-night stand stuff going on. Are they going to fall back into that habit or is Two just too busy for something like that?

JM: I think he kind of hints and, in his own indirect way, lets her know how he feels about her, but things are going to get pretty crazy in Season Two. I think they’re both going to have a lot on their plates. So that particular storyline is kind of on the backburner for now.

STV: I know this isn’t a relationship show, but I’m just going to throw this out there. Nyx is an interesting character and she seems like she would flirt with just about anyone. She more or less flirted with both Two and Three in the second episode. Would you ever consider pairing her up with one of them or are they just too busy?

JM: Whether I would consider it, absolutely. I think both scenarios would be great couples, but we’ve got another plan for Nyx.

STV: I have to ask about the Android, because she has probably had the most dynamic change of all the characters, which is kind of impressive because they’ve all changed a lot. She’s literally gone through the most drastic change from a strict ‘follow the rule’ android to someone now who is defying her superiors and, I don’t know, it actually looked like she was feeling pain when she was being tortured. She has taken on these very human-like characteristics. Can you kind of tease what her journey is ahead?

JM: Without giving too much away, in Season One she seems like a sort of typical android, yet she possesses a sort of quirkiness. Then we realize, very quickly, a sense of humor, and then ultimately she displays jealousy when another android comes onboard and captures the crew’s attention. Five points it out to her and says “You have feelings, congratulations”, which is altogether bizarre for an android to have feelings, so she thinks “Could I be flawed?” So that’s her biggest concern, the fact that she may be flawed. Essentially, she initiates this default android which is basically her in her factory settings and the default android runs the diagnostic, and we find out at the end of the season that it proved that she is flawed. She’s essentially flawed and, of course, no one finds that out besides Five who actually orders the Red Android to delete herself, which she does, so that’s where we left things in Season One. In Season Two, the Android continues to evolve and we cast some more light on her backstory and we hint at essentially what happened and why she has these emotions. The answers will be kind of surprising.

STV: As the second episode was winding down, it was revealed that the Android can’t actually connect to the ship anymore. Is that a result of her torture or a result of her evolution as a character?

JM: That’s a result of whatever they did to her while she was at Hyperion-8 while they were tinkering with her neural matrix. Whether she’ll be able to reconnect or reestablish her neural link, and how, will directly affect events in episode three. That one is a fun episode. I think fans of the show are going to like that one. I know a lot of fans online [are] worried that we would be in the prison for half the season, and I couldn’t really say anything, but they love the ship as much as we do.

STV: Speaking of the fans, what was your feedback after you killed One? Was it was what you were expecting?

JM: Having worked on Stargate for so many years, I was kind of expecting it. Some people were understandably upset. Some people liked the fact that they thought it was shocking and [were] looking forward to see where it goes. Many, many, many people assume that, like you said, it’s sci-fi, so we’re being sneaky and we wouldn’t kill off one of our main characters and that he was a Transit Transfer clone. There were a bunch of other theories out there which is kind of interesting, but ultimately unfounded. Sadly, I think he does get killed at the end of episode one.

STV: We’ve talked a little bit about what is coming ahead in the season, but is there anything you can just tease for our readers about what’s coming up?

JM: We use the Transfer Transit in an interesting way in an upcoming episode. We’ll also be doing an alternate universe episode which have always been my favorites. That and time travel stories are my favorite and they are always kind of the trickiest to do. This one is going to be a lot of fun and that’s later on in the season as well. One of the things I said in Season One [was that] we had a lot of twists and turns and shocks and surprises. Season Two will continue that, but the shocks and surprises will be even bigger as evidenced by that final scene in Episode One. The twists and turns are going to keep coming. I think controversial is a word maybe I would use to describe this upcoming season.

STV: Well, now you have me interested because I love alternate universe and time travel stuff. So I think that’ll be really kind of fun.

JM: Excellent, yeah it’s a super fun episode.

STV: You have a habit of liking to write that stuff, so were you just involved in the story breaking or are you involved in the writing of that episode?

JM: That particular episode… you know, we go into the room and usually I have an idea of pretty much what I want all of the stories to be and the major twists and turns and reveals. Before we even sat down to actually write for Season One, I knew that the sequence I wanted for the finale was everyone down and suddenly the doors open and the G.A. come in. I wanted to see all the soldiers coming in [and] taking, essentially, our home. They go into the infirmary. They go into the mess. They go into the bridge. Then that final shot [of] them taking away the characters one-by-one and we reveal Six walking alongside Lieutenant Anders for the out and that was the last image. I’ve got a very intricate game plan, so when we sit down and we break stories, I kind of know where I want to go and because of that, my writing partner and I, we break the stories along with a couple other writers usually. In Season One, it was Martin Gero, who was fantastic, and is now running his own show, Blindspot at NBC. In Season Two, it was Robert Cooper, who actually is now on Dirk Gently, based on Douglas Adams’ book. And this year, it was a young writer, Alison Hepburn, and Ivon Bartok, who is our on-set Producer. We just get together and we just break the stories scene-by-scene. That’s maybe the toughest part, just breaking those stories and hashing out points of logic and this and that and keeping track of things. Then we just go off and write it, and usually Paul and I write five each, so we like ten out of the thirteen. Then because I’m there on set, I’ll do re-writes on the other three scripts as well. In the case of the AU story, that was mine and actually I wrote that one, so look forward to that.

In the review for the last episode I revealed another animal and I challenged you to guess which character Joseph Mallozzi described as a giraffe. Here is his answer:

JM: For The Android, I almost want to say giraffe. It’s kind of amiable, again, kind of a dangerous animal if you mess with it, but somewhat amiable and very endearing. If any animal was possessed with a sense of humor, it would be the giraffe. To me, the giraffe always felt like an outsider in the animal world. All the other animals were the ones kids always took pictures of and the giraffe always felt like kind of an outsider, which is pretty much what our Android feels like.

Be sure to tune into the next all-new episode of Dark Matter this Friday, July 22nd at 10/9C on Syfy in the US and Space in Canada.

I apologize for not being able to deliver this interview over the weekend as was originally promised. I am dealing with a family emergency at the moment but wanted to ensure at least this part of the interview got to you in its completed form. I will get the final part of the interview out to you as soon as I can. Until then enjoy this interview and have fun chatting about it in the comments.

Big thanks to Bradley Adams for helping to edit this interview!

About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a newspaper in North Carolina and has a BA in Broadcasting and Cinema. She has been a TV lover since before she really understood what TV was. She has a long list of shows that she loves to watch and can be found on twitter (@ahicks83) live tweeting about each new episode whenever she can. If the show is sci-fi, fantasy, comic book based, drama, or action the odds are good she watches it or has at least watched a few episodes of it. She also has a love for comedies 2 Broke Girls and Mom. She was the original creator and co-founder of LOST Video Island (lostvideo.net) which is still operating under the management of the very capable and skilled group she turned it over to.
You can email her at aimee@spoilertv.com.
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