Cas Anvar Talks ‘The Expanse’
By Pauline Perenack
One of the most highly regarded science fiction shows of late, The Expanse, was recently cancelled to the shock of just about everyone who watched it. However, due to a very targeted fan campaign led by star Cas Anvar, The Expanse was quickly picked up by Amazon for a fourth season, enabling the based-on-books series to continue its story.
The news spread rapidly, and the cast and crew threw themselves into developing the fourth season, which is anticipated to premiere in 2019, as shooting resumes in September.
During San Diego Comic Con, we caught up with Anvar to talk about how the show was saved, why season three was just that good, and what fans can expect in season four, especially with the shift to Amazon.
Congratulations on the pickup of The Expanse season four. Can we talk a little bit about the fan movement that saved it because that seems to be the fad of the day.
Save The Expanse was phenomenal. Holy smokes, the fans came through. We lost the show – it had been cancelled. We cried our tears, we mourned our loss and the fans were going ballistic and I was kind of stoking the fire the whole week after the cancellation because I was unwilling to let it go. We were starting to see different things from different members of the cast and crew. They were saying goodbye to the show, and I couldn’t do it. I had read book four, book five, and I was like, there’s so much ahead. And we were only on episode five of thirteen of season three, and I was like this is the best season ever and we got cancelled? What is going on? We have 100% on Rotten Tomatoes on our first episode and they get better and better. It’s not meant to end and I didn’t want to let it go, so I took a week to process things and then came out with a video to the fans after I had done some research, and I found out what we needed to do in order to save the show, and I gave that on a plate to the fans and I said, here’s the bone, I’m giving it to you guys, take it, and run with it. And they went nuts with it, focused their energy, blew the doors off and just decimated Amazon and let them know how much they wanted the show. And Jeff Bezos heard and the rest is history.
Can you tell us anything about the new season?
The Expanse is a space opera. If it’s a space opera, seasons one, two, and three were the first movement of that opera. They all had kind of a tone to them. It was all about this political interaction, this leading to war. The Earthers, the Martians, the Belters, the conflict between them. The interplanetism and the political machinations and power struggle, and it all led to war, and the guilty parties were exposed, and then all of a sudden, something greater than all of us was revealed. And we opened 1500 gateways to 1500 galaxies, all of which have habitable planets of their own. And that’s how we ended it, and now season four becomes the second movement of this opera with basically the space version of the gold rush. You have all these humans, it doesn’t matter which planet they’re from, there is 70% unemployment on Earth. There is 25 million people on Mars who don’t even have a terraformed, habitable atmosphere or human gravity. They live in domes. You have the Belters who don’t even have a planet and now we’ve got 1500 solar systems to explore with habitable planets with atmospheres? So we’re looking at a mad rush towards all of this unregulated, unowned, terrain. Who knows what is going to happen. The shit is going to hit the fan. There is going to be a shit storm as they all try to get there first. So, season four is going to be a rollercoaster and I don’t know what’s going to happen. All I know is the Raza is going to be caught up in the middle of it.
Do you know if there’s anything we can expect different now that it’s on Amazon versus Syfy?
I asked our showrunner and he kind of laughed. He said, you know, it’s funny, we never really respected the rules of traditional television anyways, so we just wrote. He says, there will be some liberations. We have no censorship to worry about. We can have as many cuss words and as much sex as we want, so that’s been expanded. We don’t have any restrictions on time. Roughly an hour is what we’re looking at, but it could be 50 minutes, it could be 45 minutes, it could be an hour and 15 minutes. Whatever we need to tell the story right. We have no commercials. If you watch streaming shows, you’ll see sometimes a one and a half hour show and it’s because they needed it for that show. So that’s beautiful. We don’t have to cut nice scenes because we’re running long on time, we can just put them in. So those things are going to change. Maybe Avasarala will get the chance to cut loose like she does in the books, but other than that, Syfy really created an authentic, honorable, true to the soul of the books production of The Expanse. I don’t think it really could have been much better. We’re really grateful to Syfy for that. They created three seasons of brilliant television and now we are just having to move on to the next installment of our existence and we’re just grateful that the fans allowed it to happen.
And it almost works out better that the first act was in one place.
Yeah, and we’re moving on. And Amazon has the first three seasons already streaming live so the new fans are able to see the entire thing in one place, so it’s kind of like we’re going to university. So we’re saying goodbye to our parents and we’re moving on to the next stage of life.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to getting back with my family. The Roci crew, everyone on The Expanse love each other. I used to be in a theatre company and I have not experienced that kind of bonding, that kind of chemistry and comradery, that blood, sweat and tears, and love of the work in my entire career until The Expanse that reminds me of my days back in my Shakespeare company. I can’t wait for that. I can’t wait – Alex has had an amazing journey. He’s grown so much and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to let me do in season four.
You’ve said that season three is the best season so far. Why do you think it was the best season?
We all gelled as a team. The writers, they just pumped out a story that, there was no fat in season three. It was just action, gory, and blood. It was just move, move, move. It was streamlined. It was slick and we were at war and you never had these moments, these black holes of logic, or where the action just died. It was constant pressure leading to that climax in episode 13, which I loved. The actors and the characters had matured to a point where we were able to really fight passionately for what we believed in. The characters got to split off, there were fractures, there was trouble in paradise, and we all got to live a really tumultuous roller coaster ride that ended up seeing us breaking apart and coming back together again and then at the very end of it all, boom! The doors get blown off, and our minds get blown and we thought everything was solved, everything was good, we were safe, and the answers to the question just opened up much bigger questions.
Last question. What’s your current favorite book, song, and TV show?
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings still ranks up there. Song – I’m starting to get fancy for country western. That Hank Williams song I did on the show was kind of fun. I’m a big fan of that. Favorite TV show, I have to say Breaking Bad. That’s some of the best television I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s awesome. I’m a big fan of Altered Carbon, but Breaking Bad, I can’t say I’ve seen better TV than that show. That blew my mind and still resonates with me.