At an advanced screening for the Fox’s “THE PASSAGE,” we spoke to the stars of the show about making The Passage, surprising audiences, and what it’s like to play evil.
The Passage stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Agent Brad Wolgast, an agent tasked by the strange company Project Noah to kidnap a young girl named Amy (Saniyya Sidney) in order to use her as a means of curing a worldwide epidemic. Gosselaar and Sidney are joined in the cast by Emmanuelle Chriqui playing Brad’s ex-wife Dr. Lila Kyle, Caroline Chikezie playing Project Noah’s ambitious and unknowable lead scientist Dr. Mjr. Nichole Sykes, Brianne Howey as another test subject—and now a vampire—former death row inmate Shauna Babcock, plus many other great actors and actresses.
The first two episodes are a thrill ride, and the show will keep you coming back for more with each new episode. The pilot airs on January 14th on Fox. After the screening, The Knockturnal spoke to the stars of the show and what to expect from the future of The Passage.
The Knockturnal: What attracted you to The Passage? Was it something you had read before or did you come across the show first?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar (‘Agent Brad Wolgast’): I had a meeting first with the writers and director of the pilot. I produce content with 20th [Century Fox Productions], and I was talking to them about certain projects I was passionate about to be on the other side of the camera, and then there were talks of some things they were passionate about, and that was The Passage. So I decided to take a look and I said, “oh f***, I think I’m taking that pilot…” Then I read the books and I fell in love with the books and I read all three and I said, “holy s***, this is probably the most amazing literature I’ve read in a while.” And when Pitch didn’t go for a second season, I was on.
The Knockturnal: You’re playing a pretty hard-to-read character with your motivations. What’s it like to tread that line between good and bad?
Caroline Chikezie (‘Dr. Sykes’): To be honest with you, I didn’t know how to play it. I still don’t even know! Because it’s literally that we get the episodes and do what we’re told, so I have to kind of find the balance to make it a bit ambiguous. But I have to kind of imagine how Sykes is. I like being a baddie, but I prefer straddling the line. It’s more realistic to be a little evil.
The Knockturnal: What was most exciting about filming these first two episodes?
Emmanuelle Chriqui (Dr. Lila Kyle): The pilot was the pilot, but what was really thrilling was the second episode. Because it was like “we’re doing this. This is two of nine more episodes!” So that was just really fun, the idea of being a part of a pilot that gets picked up and goes to series. I’ve always shot in LA and this is in Atlanta, so it was a move as well.
The Knockturnal: What do you think audiences are going to most love Lila for?
Chriqui: The dynamic between Brad, Lila, and Amy is the heart of the show. So I think people are going to be invested because Amy is an orphan, Lila and Brad have lost a daughter, and they form this family. People want them to succeed because it’s devastating.
The Knockturnal: You’re playing a really interesting character and I can’t figure out what’s going to happen next with her. What’s it like playing such a strange villain?
Brianne Howey (‘Shuana Babcock’): It’s amazing! Shauna Babcock is a really fun character because I get to play multiple characters in this one character. I get to play all of the flashbacks where she’s fully human, so you get to see her family and what she was like. Then you get to play who you are in the experiment which is more animalistic, acting based on instincts. And then you play a full-blown villain monster who eats people. And there’s really nothing like that.
The Knockturnal: This is a weird question, but what does the blood taste like?
Howey: It’s surprisingly sweet! It’s dyed corn syrup. It was super sweet and [when she was lapping it up] the director was like “again! More! More!”
The Knockturnal: What will surprise us about your character going forwards?
Howey: You can expect a lot. Episode 3 is her backstory, so you’re going to learn everything about her. Where she comes from, why she committed these crimes, what her hopes and dreams were… and you get to see this very intimate connection she had with Clark Richards [played by Vincent Piazza]. But what’s interesting about the whole show is all of the characters are morally ambiguous. You’ll get to see there’s a lot of grey area between good and bad.
Gosselaar: I really don’t know. Honestly, out of all of the projects I’ve been involved with, this is the most ambitious. We have a really great cast, and the scope and the magnitude of the episodes is pretty radical and big. I only just watched episode two and I had completely forgotten what episode two was about. All I can say is that we get deeper into the backgrounds of Project Noah and of Wolgast and Richards and Babcock, and we kind of do flashbacks of what their past was. So Wolgast and his relationship with Lila and the death of their daughter. So we explore the missing pieces that weren’t there in the books.
Chriqui: Lila and Brad have so much history. So she comes in and her sole objective is that she loves this man and knows that he’s in trouble. And she’s going to help him in whatever way she can. She’s pretty fierce and fearless. She shows up. The show is a bit of a slow burn at the start, but as it increases Lila comes out to play for sure.
Chikezie: I think what may surprise the viewers is just how willing my character Sykes is… willing to go, willing to do to make sure that Amy, the little girl, is safe. She’s fearless though, a badass.
The Passage stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Emanuelle Chriqui, Caroline Chikezie, Brianne Howey and more. It airs its first episode on January 14th on Fox