Karl Urban & Michael Ealy Talk FOX’s New Scifi Drama “Almost Human”
New scifi action drama (we could just as easily have gone with futuristic, buddy-cop thriller) Almost Human premieres November 4 on FOX.
Set in the 2048, audiences will be introduced to a landscape that has witnessed science and technology evolving at an uncontrollable pace.
As such, the world stands on the brink of chaos as new unknown drugs and weapons flood the streets. With contraband controlled and distributed by violent criminal organizations such as the sinister Insynidcate, and the crime rate hiked by 400%, local law enforcement agents are outnumbered and overwhelmed, and all police officers are partnered with advanced combat-model androids for their own protection.
If Almost Human sounds like “a fun action adventure” as series star Karl Urban described it to us yesterday, then the description is surely a fitting one. Reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the recently wrapped TV series Fringe and even the recent movie adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s I Robot, Almost Human is must-see TV for genre fans this Fall.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to grill both leads Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd) and Michael Ealy (Common Law, Underworld: Awakening) on the show’s immensely appealing dynamic, their characters unusual and occasionally fraught relationship and exactly what fans can expect from the new series when it debuts on November 4th.
“In the pilot, [my character] Kennex is awakened after being in a coma for seventeen months,” explains Urban of the show’s setup. “He wakes up to find that not only has he got a synthetic leg but this woman who he thought was his girlfriend for over a year was actually working for a criminal organisation. As we started to get into it, we realized that as fun as all that material is, what we really needed to focus on was not defining this character by his baggage. That’s something that happened to him but it’s not something we’re dwelling on in these first few episodes. The mystery of Anna and Insynidcate will come back at some point, but what we’re really focusing on is establishing the relationship between [Michael Ealy’s] Dorian and Kennex – and making this a fun action-packed show.”
With such a rich potential for advanced mythology, how will the show’s creative team (which includes JJ Abrams and JH Wyman) balance the more serialized elements against what will obviously be a weekly procedural?
“A certain amount of it is case of the week,” explains Urban. “But there are current themes which flow from week to week, whether it’s Dorian contemplating his mortality, or taking ownership of his humanity or Kennex moving towards freeing himself to be with someone significant in his life. Our main goal and focus is really to have fun, and to make sure the audience has fun. We want to define a balance between really intriguing cases of the week – something you are not going to see on another cop show – and how it’s presented to the audience. We don’t want to put all our cards on the table in the first act. Like the characters, if the audience doesn’t quite know what’s going on initially, it adds to the intrigue.”
“This is definitely a character driven show” says Ealy. “It’s a cop show. It’s a fun cop show but we focus more on character than any other cop show out there. The cases are good, but they’re even better when they effect us personally. We hope to stand apart in that way. Dorian is still dealing with several issues. Why was he decommissioned in the first place? He’s still trying to rectify that and live the best possible life that he can with this second chance that he’s been given.”
On the show’s tech-heavy mythology and similarities to another of JJ Abrams/JH Wyman projects Fringe (which recently completed its five year series run on FOX), Urban admits he was quite taken by the technology.
“We’re dealing with concepts that obviously aren’t present in our world. Concepts like Dorian – a fully-functioning, life-like humanistic robot, who, in many ways is actually more human than my character. To me, that’s probably the most amazing piece of technology on the show. Beyond that, we deal with other things. Cloning. Synthetic technologies. Synthetic hearts. Sex bots. We’re introducing concepts that are just around the corner. The wonderful thing that Joel and his team do is research these technologies that are just over the horizon, which is one of the more fun and exciting elements of our show.”
“I would agree,” says Ealy. “In trying to build this character of Dorian, I find it incredible to think that there’s potential in 40 years for machines to be common place. People know that Dorian is a machine, a cop issued DRN. The world is very much aware that he is a machine. It’s almost inconceivable to me right now. One of the things we deal with on the show is what are the civil rights of a machine? How valuable are those rights and are they respected? We’re dealing with these issues today, so it’s interesting to see it being played out in the future, but with machines.”
Wait! Sex bots?
Both Urban and Ealy laugh. “That my friend is a little treat for the future!” says Urban. “There are some things on the show I cannot wait for you to see. The wonderful thing about the show is that it’s full of limitless possibilities. I can’t say anything further about it so I’m just going to call it a little teaser of where we’re going.”
Almost Human is set to premiere Monday November 4th at 8/7c on FOX.
The series is executive-produced by Emmy Award winner J.J. Abrams and creator J.H. Wyman and stars Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Lili Taylor, Minka Kelly, Mackenzie Crook and Michael Irby.