After a sudden cancelation of Syfy’s The Expanse, the network left fans feeling unsatisfied and quite ambitious as they banned together and started a campaign to Save The Expanse.
After a year of awaiting the fate of the science fiction TV series, Season 4 of The Expanse is set to release on December 13, 2019 on its new home, Amazon.
We talked with Wes Chatham, Cara Gee, Steven Strait about the show’s new platform and the exciting horizons for their respective characters, Amos, Drummer, and Holden.
What was it like coming back set after the switch to Amazon?
Wes Chatham: “So coming on, usually if you’re on a show and you are in your fourth season, you know your character, you’re in your place. But I felt the excitement and enthusiasm that’s usually felt for a brand new job or brand new show or something like that. Just a feeling of gratitude when we know how lucky we are because we all love this show. We all believe what the show can be [great], and that’s all our dreams that we are able to do this and all of a sudden we get this opportunity to go from where we were to get to go to where we are now. It’s just an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and excitement. Everybody’s hugging and you’re excited about every scene, every role and so it’s a really spectacular moment for us.”
How did you find out about the news?
Wes Chatham: “I always felt as if there’s this kind of weird spiritual connection to the show because I remember reading the pilot and I knew about the books from Comic Con prior. So I knew about the books and I remember reading the pilot and just had this special feeling and felt like this is special. I always had this feeling deep inside that it was gonna be a developed full thing. I remember telling my team during pilot season… there’s all these pilots, all these scripts and everything and I was like, ‘guys there is something about this project, something about this role.’ So then getting the job and then with it getting canceled, even though I was devastated I just felt like there was something that just wasn’t done just yet. I felt like there was something there. Like there’s something inside of me that always still believed in it. So when it happened I was elated. It was just something about this project that made me feel really special.”
Cara Gee: “I was at that dinner, that legendary crazy night that… It has become one of those stories that if you wrote it you would be like, this is ridiculous, and then the richest man in the world saves these ragtag actors over a dinner at the Sheraton in LA. But yea we thought it was over, and of course that panel discussion at the convention… we went there because we had already booked this panel discussion about the science in the show. And long before the show had been canceled, long before anything had been discussed about canceled/renewed whatever, all that stuff was gonna happen. We still would have done this convention, would have still gotten that award and would have been in the same place at the same time. But the timing of it was such that we ended up going there. I was shy and awkward because I was like, don’t bug this guy about the show it’s canceled, just let it go, we have to move on. Which is funny because of course Cas was like, ‘Hi, Jeff!’ So fearless. And then sitting at that table, there was a video of it on the internet of JB like, ‘we have the cast of The Expanse here, can you guys stand up?’ Even in that moment I didn’t dare even hope that was gonna happen and I was squeezing Wes’ leg under the table so hard. So he gets us to stand up, and I’m like, ok, still sort of feeling this is kind of silly because of course he’s not gonna announce here and now that the show is saved. And then he did and I screamed and danced in front of a lot of people. Yeah, it was one of the most surreal moments of my life to be honest.”
Just as a personal question, how do you keep yourself together when going through these ups and downs especially as one of the leads who has to remain positive for the sake of the flow?
Steven Strait: “You know I always think about the intention for why we went into this project and the kind of culture that we built. And this show is supportive of not just the entire endeavor but each individual in it. I’ve always said our show functions more like a theater company than it does a television show. It’s not hierarchical, and it’s very collaborative. I’m sure folks yesterday probably told you, but we rehearse on our weekends since the first episode of the first season and we haven’t missed an episode yet. People volunteer their time to work on this project. For me, we only have control of it so much as artist on the show. What we have control over is the amount of work and passion we put into it. And I have to believe as long as we commit ourselves to that, good things will happen, and we were lucky that fortune broke our way with this. But the idea that we weren’t gonna be able to finish this story up was so incomprehensible that everybody, even when the odds were against us, waited and committed to it. We’re the only show that I believe Amazon picked up outside of its own platform. The odds were so far against us that you have to stay positive.”
Ty kind of said something last night I thought was interesting about how Amos is the rock for upon which a lot of stuff is built on. Do you think Amos has changed and will continue to change?
Wes Chatham: “No, I think he has changed. From who Amos was from the beginning and now seeing his relationship with the crew and with Holden and his relationship with Naomi… His relationship with Naomi has now expanded with the Roci crew. That is his family. He is not as concerned with all this macro politics and what’s going on with the world and everything. He feels like guys let’s just do our thing over here and let them kill each other and figure that out, but Holden’s always dragging us into this. And so I’m just there because of the love of the family around me, the connection. That wasn’t there, that was built, that was earned with the relationships that we have developed over time. I think Amos has the most tightly controlled outer presence but inside it’s a hurricane, and I think ultimately what happens is when they go into those caves, there are circumstances that happen that he completely loses control of that mechanism. And you see straight into his heart and the thing that he is trying to protect the whole time.”
Without the constraints of a network television series, do you feel like your character is able to go into those really dark spaces that may you weren’t able to do on Syfy?
Wes Chatham: “ Yes, I think telling the story with the demands of broadcast television and the challenges that come with that, you always have to round off the edges. But once you take those constraints off, you just tell the story the way the totally honest reality of what this is and let it go wherever it needs to go and let it be as harsh as it needs to be, just as long as it’s honest and it’s not harsh for the sake of [being] shocking, but that it’s harsh because it’s the reality in the world that they’re in. I think Amazon has allowed in taking those constraints off the show to be what it wants to be.”
So we visited your ship, it seems cool. It’s tight though. How do you get cameras in there?
Cara Gee: “It’s a dance. I was just saying to Jason who’s our camera operator, he’s such a gifted camera operator, and all of our scenes we’re dancing with him, and he really is the one who executes so much of that Zero-G illusion. If you’re standing still, he makes us look like we’re in Zero-G. That set in particular is a tight space, so it’s heavily choreographed. The scenes in there, you know exactly where you’re gonna be and what line, so that there’s enough room for everyone.”
I feel Drummer is on the station, she’s monitoring OPA and quickly starts losing control of the situation. Does she think she’s in control or is she barely hanging on?
Cara Gee: “She is in control. She decides what needs to be done and executes that. I think that is why Drummer is so successful in her position is because she can put aside her personal feelings and do what needs to be done for the good of the belt. And for the good of all these separate fractions that are coming together. How do you reconcile with what all these different groups want and need with an eye to the future of sovereignty as a nation. All nations are made up of these groups, so a leader, their job is to figure out what is best for the way forward. I think that’s what she’s doing.”
But at the same time she’s shown herself to be very loyal, whether it was with Fred Johnson early on, or Naomi, and going with her crazy boyfriend… that really was a leap of faith. Can you speak to that thought process too because there were a lot of people who questioned her judgement at those points in time.
Cara Gee: ‘I think I mean you have these charismatic leaders right you got Anderson Dawes, Fred Johnson, and I think on a personal level, Drummer agrees with different aspects of each of the approaches and certainly her friendship with Naomi and her insight into everything that went down in season 3, and of course the protomolecule and what threat that poses to humanity. She’s sort of filtering through these different perspectives in trying to act and to lead her own people. I think she is extremely loyal. I think that her biggest priority is Belter sovereignty. How can life be better for a group of people who are so brutally oppressed? And she has dedicated her whole life to that. She’s kind of a machine. She’s so driven, she plows through personal pain, physical, emotional, spiritual pain all the time. She has this huge weight on her shoulders constantly. So I think a big part of that is her loyalty to that cause and to her people.”
As a producer on the show, too, how have you brought your voice not only to your character but to the overall story in this dual role?
Steven Strait: “In many ways I was a part of the structure that kind of brought about the rehearsal workshop stuff on the weekends and I’ve been very lucky that I have worked as an actor since I was really young. I’ve grown up on sets. Just in terms of what I’ve learned works for something that is a large production and has a [stellar] cast, my aim was to help create something that is cohesive, creatively, but also creating an environment that was safe for people to take creative risks and to foster collaboration as much as I possibly can so that everybody feels like their voice is heard . which subsequently gives a sense of ownership to the work and what ends up happening is this self improving cycle that comes out of something very positive that people just really feel proud of their work. And I’m very proud to say that I was a big piece of that in creating that structure and that culture and I’m certainly not the only one but one of the people who created that architecture for our show. It’s a story and a project that I am deeply passionate about and I think it’s very important especially in today’s world to have this adventurous socio political science fiction show that really leans so hard on allegory about what’s important today and we’re able to speak to hot topics and divisive things in a way that’s digestible to a lot more people that maybe those message wouldn’t reach otherwise and sparking those conversations out there is a deeply important thing.”