The six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awakens from stasis in the farthest reaches of space. Their memories wiped clean, they have no recollection of who they are or how they go on board. The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination: a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone. With no idea whose side they are on, they face a deadly decision. Will these amnesiacs turn their backs on history, or will their pasts catch up with them?
My twelve years on Stargate served to confirm something I already knew, and a fact that most fans have known for quite some time: A clever hook may lead viewers to check out a new show, but it’s the characters that will keep them coming back. I know, I know. It seems pretty obvious, but to most buyers, it’s all about the sizzle. “Hey, there’s never been a show about a unicorn detective! Let’s do that!” Or – “Hey, there are a dozen hits shows about a lawyers. Let’s do that!” Sure, they’ll SAY they’re interested in the characters and will emphasize their desire to see them shine in a pilot but – Come on! It’s the pilot! Characters develop over time through their respective journeys and their interrelations with others. How much can you really tell from a single script?
Yes, it’s all about the characters. And those onscreen personalities we come to grow and love are a magical mix of words on a page and performances onscreen. Your terrific script is doomed without a solid actor while, conversely, horrendous writing can sink even the most talented of thespians.
All this to say: casting is crucial. And it can be very tricky. Most of the time, it’s not a simple matter of being able to distinguish a good performance from a bad one, but being able to identify the right actor for the right role.
Which is the challenge that has presented itself on Dark Matter – x 7.
We’ve cast a fairly wide net in our search to find the perfect actors for each our seven very varied crew members, using the graphic novel as more of a guide than a template. The whirlwind process started a couple of weeks ago when the materials (breakdowns, sides, the first two episodes) went out to casting agents. Since then, we’ve watched A LOT of auditions. And we’ll no doubt see a lot more before we’re done. Once the L.A. auditions come in mid next week, we’ll make our selects and narrow the field down considerably. Our prospective candidates will read two more scenes and, based on those auditions, we’ll narrow the field down to a handful and have them read together to test their chemistry. Based on the results, we’ll pick our favorites and then it’ll be smooooooth sailing!
AKA Hero, AKA Jace Corso. HANDSOME, BOYISH, GOOD-LOOKING. CHARMING BUT A BIT OF A GOOF, HE IS THE CREW’S MORAL CENTER, A GUY WHO ALWAYS TRIES TO DO THE RIGHT THING, despite the odds being stacked against him and no matter how unpopular the course of action. HE IS A SPACE COWBOY, THE CLOSEST THING TO A HERO ONBOARD THE SHIP. Sure, he screws up – but he means well. He’s the fish-out-water with whom our viewers will hopefully identify.
Stargate equivalent –
Surprisingly (or maybe not) proving to be one of the most challenging roles to cast. But two candidates are at the top of my list…
AKA Boss Lady, AKA Portia Lin. THE GROUP’S DE FACTO LEADER, SHE IS A MASTER FIGHTER and an unbelievably quick learner when it comes to any type of weaponry. DETERMINED, TOUGH, AND MORE THAN A LITTLE HEADSTRONG, SHE IS NOT THE TYPE YOU WANT TO MESS WITH- OR DISAPPOINT. She can be cool and inscrutable and yet, at the same time, demonstrates a curious sympathy for her fellow crew members.
Stargate equivalent –
This was the one I was most worried about going in as she has to strike that fine balance between forceful and likeable- but we actually have some terrific candidates.
AKA Sunshine, AKA Marcus Boone. A TRUE BADASS, he is the flipside to One’s principled coin – which is why the two are often at odds, developing a (grudging) like-hate relationship over the course of their journey. HE IS A MERCENARY THROUGH AND THROUGH, ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR HIMSELF. But he must come to accept the fact that, if he’s going to survive, he’s going to have to learn to get along.
Stargate equivalent –
A few very interesting casting possibilities here. I think of all the roles this one would probably be the most fun.
AKA Ryo Tetsuda. CALCULATED, INTROSPECTIVE, EVER-STOIC AND A MASTER OF THE BLADE. His composed exterior belies a ruthlessness that can manifest itself in extreme circumstances.
Stargate equivalent –
This one has been tough. Poised and menacing is very hard to pull off. But there are a few candidates I am very excited about.
AKA Kid. THE SHIP’S PIXIE-ISH MASCOT WITH MYSTERIOUS ABILITIES – SHE’S THE KID WITH ALL THE SECRETS. And a propensity for getting into trouble. EASILY BORED, QUICK TO MOUTH OFF, she is nevertheless one of the more empathetic members of our colorful crew.
Stargate equivalent –
Another one I thought would prove a challenge to cast but, so far, things are looking very good in that regard. The issue is age. In the show, this character may be a little older as we’ll need to cast someone 18+ to play younger. Or cast someone younger and work around their school schedule. Or follow my suggestion (that didn’t go over too well) and cast a high school dropout.
AKA Tiny, AKA Griffin Jones. ON THE SURFACE, HE’S A LOW-KEY BRUISER, AN IMPOSING FIGURE among a group of intimidating individuals. HE’S A MAN OF FEW WORDS, A TOUGH AS HELL GOON WITH LITTLE PATIENCE FOR BULLSHIT. Cross him at your own risk. Beneath the rough and tumble exterior, however, is a heart of gold- 14k, the softest! A SURPRISINGLY SIMPLE GUY, HIS QUIET CONFIDENCE BELIES A FIERCE INTELLIGENCE AND PHILOSOPHICAL NATURE.
Stargate equivalent –
There are two candidates who positively nailed it. This is going to be a very difficult decision.
Aka Android. CONCISE, IMPASSIVE, YET SURPRISINGLY POSSESSED OF A SUBTLY WRY SENSE OF HUMOUR, he is an indispensable member of the crew since he can exercise control over all the ship’s systems. Imagine him as less a robot and more a surly butler.
Stargate equivalent –
This one’s been very tough. He’s possessed of a subtle humor that many are having a hard time capturing in their reads.
So, let’s put you in charge. Who would you cast in each of the roles?
45 thoughts on “October 25, 2014: Casting Dark Matter!”
I wish I wasn’t on a tablet because I cannot express my thoughts properly with the hunt and peck method. 🙁
Wow, I would hate to be in your shoes. I think I could cast one or two characters, but not seven all at once. My brain would explode. I’d get so confused. I’d try to get a teen under 18 for the kid, but then you would probably have a parent to deal with constantly on and off the set. For TWO, Portia Lin, I was thinking more like one of the ladies in Whispers. And the picture drawn in the comic book of the Android – I never would have thought of Mr. Woolsey. I was thinking more like the android in Aliens. He was pretty cool. Glad it’s not my choice!
I don’t know anybody, Joe. I was thinking Roseanne for the Android. I’m really bad at this.
Is it too late to re-write the whole thing around Adam Baldwin?
So many kids are home-schooled or do public or private school on-line on their own schedule these days that the only thing standing between you and a genuine teen is whatever child labor laws are still on the books that assume all kids are in a brick and mortar school.
For One I can see Henry Cavill. for the Kid I see Jade Pettyjohn. I will have to think more about the others.
Awesome suggestion – and yet I’m stumped. And I always have something to say lol. It looks like you’re going to have your hands full with seven primary characters. Can we see the casting notes?
Okay, you asked, so here it is:
1 – Boyish Hero: Niall Matter who has been in Eureka, Primeval, New World and Arctic Air. He even was in a small part in Stargate.
2 – Boss Lady: Miranda Frigon. Primeval New World, Heartland. She’s pretty, talented and sings beautifully.
3 – Badass: Cliff Simon. No one does bad like Cliff. He can tell you a whole story with a look. He has been nailing bad guy roles on the top U.S shows -NCIS, Castle, The Americans, 24, etc.
4 – Stoic Blade Master: Aleks Paunovic. Stargate Atlantis, Psych, Arctic Air, and lots of other shows. Aleks is big (6’5), very good with stunt fighting, tough, with a marshmallow core. Don’t tell him I said that. 🙂
5 – Kid: Jodelle Ferland who was awesome as Harmony in the Atlantis episode of the same name. She should be just about the right age now.
6 – Low Key Bruiser: Dan Payne who has been in Star Gate, Atlantis, Supernatural, etc. He’s pretty low key in real life, so should be great as this character.
The Android – Robert Picardo. Yes, I have to agree that Picardo is the best at playing strange and odd characters.
ONE – Francois Arnaud [Borgias]
TWO – Rachel Luttrell
FOUR – Mark Dacascos – You’ll be needing someone who actually CAN handle a blade, yes? And, in a pinch, knows how to cook!
aarrrgh….the pain to have to compare, decide…and of course when you toss in the much loved Stargate equivalents, you knew..you know…this will tug at our heart. eagerly looking forward to more……
What no Rodney McKay character? By the way, that line of yours “smooth sailing” would be terrific as a catch phrase for one of the characters, but then again alas, no Rodney McKay….
Ming-na Wen for Portia Lin. Or possibly Number 3. But I like her as a leader.
Mike Dopud for Jace.
Six: Vin Diesel
Ryo Tetsuda: Tadanobu Asano (he was Hogun in Thor)
For a minute I thought you were up really early. Then I remembered that you’re in my time zone now!
I’m having trouble coming up with younger actors for Ryo. But I’ll trust that you’ve got some good possibilities!
I don’t envy you but I look forward to your decisions (I’m kinda hoping to see some familiar faces cast!).
Someone mentioned Niall Matter. I just got done re-watching Eureka on Netflix and yeah, I could see that.
I’m so looking forward to a new sci-fi show. I can’t wait 😀
On reading the graphic novel, I couldn’t get Mike Dopud out of my head for Jace. Maybe it was just the physical representation or something, but I think Varro showed that Dopud can do a subtle compassion. Not sure what he’s doing right now, though.
I am a bit at a loss for the others, though I will agree that I would never have thought of Woolsey for the Android. Again, I might be distracted by the physical person rather than the actual characterization. The more I think about it, the more I can see it.
One thing about the “Kid”, assuming that the show runs for several seasons a child under a certain age will grow up considerably (assuming they’re not killed off. Where is Martin G., anyway? 🙂 ) and you will need to account for that in writing as the years go by.
sorry but i think your characters are stereotypical and clishe, a little more imagination please!!!!
TIL I would suck at casting. But I do love the glimpse into the process!
Hey, hey now, I am a high school drop out and I have two BS degrees (cum laude), plus advanced technical training from the Navy. I did get a high school diploma so I could join the military by using my college credits. Don’t dis the drop out, we just wandered off the path.
I will say cast someone young and work around their school schedule. I hate it when shows get a bunch over age actors trying to play teens because more often than not they just aren’t that convincing.
For the kid certainly Millie Brown, if I was in charge I would go all out to get her after her brilliant performance in Intruders.
Iwan Rheon for four. Might have to learn to use a blade through.
Not sure about the rest.
Piccardo could quite easily pull of the android character.
I can’t agree with most of your Stargate equivalents… maybe at the end of the second series they’ll find the Destiny, and off we go on a new adventure….
Re: Robert Picardo – almost forgot he played the medical hologram on Star Trek Voyager. which is kinda sorta androidish.
Since you might be going for the Aspie kid, I could tell you the mind-bending quips my kid comes up with, but they are so mind-bending and non-sequitor that they crash my brain and I can’t remember the best of them. All I know is they are more mind-blowing than the second best of them, of which I remember some.
Because of the awkward blurting of technical information, I think an intentional Aspie would be a great addition to a science fiction show. The non-sequitor nature of some of the blurting would save you from having to come up with a context for technical exposition at least a few times, until it gets old. The usual “cool guy hero gets impatient during technical exposition” would become something much more rich and tense. Some aspies would become non-verbal if they picked up on the impatience. There are more things, conflicting agendas, I’d call them, that sometimes happen around aspie tech talk that aren’t always tense, they’re comical if everyone’s cool that way, but could add some interesting context to otherwise dry information.
But how would a non-Aspie write dialogue for an Aspie that covers that thing they do where they blurt out a perspective on something a typical brain would never come up with?
I don’t envy your job, but I’m sure you’ll pick the perfect people.
Reblogged this on Pbmom's Blog.
Here are my ideas based off your descriptions in the post:
One: A Ben Browder (Farscape’s John Crighton) or Joe Flanigan (SGA’s John Sheppard) type of actor. Are these guys older than you have in mind? If he weren’t so busy on Supernatural, Jensen Ackles could pull off this kind of role.
Two: Maggie Q (Nikita from The CW’s excellent action series, Nikita) or Anna Torv (Fringe)
Three: I’m confused about this one. Should it be a male or female? The description sounds like a male character, but the SG equivalent looks like Claudia Black. Anyway, if a male character, Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) seems perfect
Four: Ken Leung (who played Miles on Lost) unless he needs to specifically be Japanese, then Hiroyuki Sanada
Five: Jasika Nicole (Asterid from Fringe) really needs to be in another TV series. I’m not sure if she’s the right age, but she’s got that really innocent quality and has experience in a sci-fi show. Also, in the alternate universe of Fringe, she played a character with Asperger’s.
Six: How about Jason Momoa? 🙂 Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is great at playing tough and menacing (see Adebisi from Oz) as well as poised (Mr. Eko from Lost)
Seven: Cast a good-looking actor with an accent (British, Australian). Michael Fassbender’s character in Prometheus is what I’m thinking of for this character.
Wouldn’t that be an awesome problem to have?! Find a 13 year old Justin Beiber type and watch them grown up before the camera, each year having to adjust the character just a little bit. The Kid becomes a huge popular star and makes all the other co-stars jealous except for the steady paycheck they have because the show lasts 10-15 years.
I do agree that the hero in this series should be 30s/40s age. I think the hero needs some experience behind him. I also agree with Gforce about Varro.
This is so exciting to think about! Feeling goosebumps…Ok, ok, ok *think brain* might be a little British based!
One aka Hero – Arthur Darvill or Bradley James
Two aka Boss – Emilia Fox or Taraji P. Henson
Three aka bruiser Frank Grillo
Four- Yu Aoi because of his blade work in Rurouni Kenshin
Five aka Kid – Georgie Henley
Six- Dave Bautista
Seven aka Android- JJ Feild
If I could choose a role for myself would be Kid or Android. Probably the android – I make a mean cup of tea.
I don’t envy anyone at the casting calls! Hours of tedious readings but for the actors, it could make their career. I would go for a few talented unknowns but don’t you need some seasoned actors to anchor a show? Piccardo would be great and it would be interesting to see him play that character. Ming Na would be a wonderful addition but she seems pretty busy with Shield. What about the guy that played Greer in SGU? Is Jamil busy?
Loved your co-worker updates! Hey, anyone that finds a stroller for Ms. Jelly is tops in my book! Jelly looked so cute in the stroller too…
If your shown wasn’t featuring all aliens I was going to suggest one of the characters have an obscure city of origin. On our way to Florida, we saw an unusual city name: Buckatunna,_Mississippi . Of course, we kept calling it Buckatuna. 😀 We used a GPS this trip. I’m sure if I like those things are not. At one point it told us to “turn slightly right”. Slightly right? 🙄
One – Luke Mitchell, Brandon routh, Duncan Clare, warren Christie
Two – Ming na (but she’s occupied), Stephanie Jacobson, Peyton list, dichen Lachlan, Christy choi, Maltese jow, Jaime Chung
Three – Manu Bennett, Duncan Clare, Pedro paschal, mark guanine, John pyper-ferguson, warren Christie
Four – terry Chen, Aaron yoo, Hiroyuki Sanada
Five – Liz gillies, Elise Gutierrez, Greer Grammer, Natalie Dreyfus, Jordan Hinson, Katie Stevens, Seychelle Gabriel
Six – roger cross, Adrian Holmes, Peter mensch, lance riddick, Ty Olsson
Android – Robert Picardo, Chris Heyerdahl (he could be considered for other roles too), mark pellegrino, Jeffrey pierce (Charlie jade), tony amedola
One-Ben Browder. Yes it seems to be a reoccurring role type for him but with but he was really brilliant in both the series i have seen each with their own slant. I am not sure if he is still in the game.
Two Bill Shatner. He is Cananadian. I was thinking Ming-na Wen, but she might not have the agility for the role. Rona Mitra?
Three- Adam Baldwin- guess I might be type casting
Four-forgot the name but was Jason (Ronan’s) friend Tyre, or Jamil Smith, Mike Dupod
7- Android. This has be a role not dedicated to a male character as in: Terry Ryan-STNG, or Lexa Doig-Andramida (a bit too rye). Robert Piccardo as the Dr but that caracter was rather dead pan. His portral of Woolsey had great development. Perhap the actress who played the female knight in season 2/3 of Game of Thrones.
Such are my talents. I will leave the true choices up to your capable mind and eye.
Two – Kelly Hu
Four – Peter Shinkoda
Oh…Peter Shinkoda!!!! Yes yes yes!
Would love to see Rainbow too. With Falling Skies ending, Colin Cunningham would be great.
Guess what I am watching right now? Your episode “Sharks” on Transporter The Series.
Wow, auto-correct changed some of my suggestions…
2 – dichen Lachman (dollhouse), Malese jow (vampire diaries)
3 – mark ghanime (helix)
5 – Elise Gutien (smallville – Mia dearden/Speedy, eureka)
I think the Android needs an English accent. Also beware the kid being too smart, or he’ll get hated on worse than Wesley Crusher.
But really, as long as at least some of the dudes are hot, I don’t care whom you cast. Oh, and some bromantic chemistry is required, too. 🙂
Ben Browder is a MUST!!!
You know, I’d love to see Rob Picardo in the Android role, but I fear it’s too close to his EMH role on Voyager and he may turn it down, understandably. I just really want to see him in a role you write for him because it worked out so well in the past. Cliff Simon would be better in the Android role. 😉
I’d love to see Adam Baldwin as Three, but I feel that’s a little too close to his role as Jayne in Firefly. Too close, hell, it’s identical!
I, too, considered Jodelle Ferdland for Kid, but fear she might look too “old” nowadays. She’s pulls the “delightfully devious” and “arrogant kid” off pretty well(did you ever see her in that TV movie she did recently? Gah!).
Two has got Luvia Peterson written all over her. Unfortunately, I think she will still be tied up with Continuum. Same thing goes for Lexa Doig. Both are fantastic in that show, so I wouldn’t want to see them exit it.
I have to admit I’ve never seen the show, but Eddie McClintock from Warehouse 13 looks to be a good fit for One. From all the little clips and snippets I’ve seen, he seems to do the impish charm thing pretty well.
The others I really have no idea about, and in the end, since we have no idea who’s actually auditioning, it’s up to you and Paul. But that’s the best part about it. Like I’ve mentioned before here: it’s your property, your show, your vision. You guys are going to do what you feel will work best to put out a great product.
I trust you guys. 🙂
Cool look at the characters. Thank you. I will always choose Ben Browder for every role *snicker*
I suspect my favorites will end up being One (because I love the nice guys) and the android (because I love androids). Cast good-looking men in those roles, please.
The Android, I’m shippin’ him already! Neil Jackson natch, aka the Vegas Wraith. For the young dude George MacKay for How I Live Now or Luke Mitchell. Master of the Blade sounds like Tahmoh Penikett. Charlyne Yi could be interesting as Lin, but Tiio Horn is way more badass. For Ryo or Jace I could see Nam-gil Kim (Kim Nam-Gil), K-Drama star and all around smoldering super hottie. Kim Jae-Wook would be awesome too (no relation to KimYe).
@ponytail, so right, Janina Gavankar and Christina Cox would be awesome as the kick ass ladies.
man, out of 7 characters only 2 are female, the boss lady and the mysterious kid. sorry, but that sounds like an overload of dudes, not excited to watch that, especially with these cliché character descriptions attached to it…
surly butler-android with subtle (nasty) humour – I imagine Olivia Williams would pull that off superbly. but she’s busy with Manhattan anyways…
thank gods, at least Marvel and DC have caught on and are gearing up to give us movies lead by their female superheros.
late to add in my few cents, but here goes.
1 – niall matter, brian j smith, colin ferguson. callum blue, david paetkau
2 – Pauline Egan, Miranda Frigon, Rachel Nichols (if continuum gets cancelled)
3 – colin Cunningham (wouldn’t work out if dark matter starts shooting before falling skies wraps up), ryan robbins, callum blue
4 – terry chen, peter shinkoda
5 – jodelle ferland
6 – dan payne, chris heyerdahl, manu Bennett, hugh dillon
7 – Robert picardo
# 4: Von Flores
I find Three/Vala and Four/Teal’c to be the best comparisons, especially Three/Vala, and One/Eli and Five/Ford to be the biggest stretches. I think One/Daniel and Five/Eli would fit better.