- Long-term goal: Read 365 books on the year.
- Short-term goal: See that giant shark movie.
These various projects I have on the go may throw a wrench into those plans. But who knows? Just gotta stay focused! Read more
These various projects I have on the go may throw a wrench into those plans. But who knows? Just gotta stay focused! Read more
Here. We. Gooooooooo!
Looks like we’ll convene the writers’ room sometime in September. Before then, the show’s creator and I will map out the first season game plan covering all ten episodes, character and story arcs. We’re also aiming to have the pilot co-written by then. After that, it’ll be smoooooooth sailing!
All that will be left to do is get those nine other scripts written, rewritten, prepped, shot, then have the episodes edited, mixed, color corrected and delivered…and we’re done in time for Sanno Matsuri. Yeah! Read more
Concluding our Dark Matter Season 3 Awards with recognition of our amazing main cast and their performances big and small…
MELISSA O’NEIL (TWO)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
It’s hard to believe Dark Matter was Melissa O’Neil’s first t.v. role, even more surprising if you’d actually seen her amazing audition for TWO. From the moment I watched her self-tape, I vowed I’d go to war to see her cast. Fortunately, there was no need for bloodshed as I was not the only one to take note of her immense talent. With regard to choosing her best supporting role in season 3, this was probably the toughest call I had to make. I could have gone with her double turn in Episode 306, “One Last Card To Play”, in which we she portrays both TWO and alt. Portia with subtle distinction, or her heartfelt performance of Episode 309, “Isn’t That A Paradox”, in which she grasps at a potential refuge for her and her crew. Instead, I have to give it to…
Episode 304, “All The Time In The World”. The comedy stylings of Anthony Lemke and Zoie Palmer are front and center, but the backbone of this episode is Melissa’s dubious and joyously bewildered performance.
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
She again pulls double duty in the revelatory Episode 310 (“Built, Not Born”) and my first instinct was to go with that one but, upon further review, I have to go with…
Episode 301, “Being Better Is So Much Harder”. A great actor’s true talents shine, not so much in scenes of strength but in those instances in which their characters are at their lowest and most vulnerable. Melissa is at her best here as TWO wrestles with self-doubt, guilt, and the true weight of command.
ANTHONY LEMKE (THREE)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
THREE went from being one of the show’s most hated characters to, over the course of three seasons, one of its most beloved thanks in large part to Anthony Lemke’s portrayal of the incorrigible scoundrel. THREE is generally mercenary, boorish, and comical, making those instances in which we’re offered a glimpse behind that devil-may-care facade all the more delightful. THREE is terrific when he’s driving the action, but he’s equally great when he’s lending genuine support as was the case in…
Episode 310, “Built, Not Born”. Anthony and Natalie Brown play off each other beautifully in their shared scenes, and it’s his later, poignant scene with Zoie Palmer’s Android in the mess that really reminds us what this show is really about: these characters and their bonds of friendship.
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
Like the decision to cast Anthony, this one didn’t require all that much thought…
Episode 304, “All The Time In The World” in which Anthony displays THREE at his funniest (riding the seemingly endless time loop) and most serious (coming to terms with the digital resurrection of the woman he once loved).
ALEX MALLARI JR. (FOUR/RYO ISHIDA)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
Season 3 saw FOUR complete his transition to Emperor Ryo Ishida, going from steadfast ally to sworn enemy, and the episode that gets my vote for Alex Mallari Jr.’s Best Supporting Performance is…
Episode 308, “Hot Chocolate”, an episode in which he truly gets to play the role of the season’s Big Bad, delivering as a fearsome threat yet, simultaneously, a conflicted former friend who has not forgotten his former ties.
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
Throughout the show’s third season, Alex did a brilliant job of conveying the war his character fought, both without and within, measuring fear against love, leadership against loyalty, and there was no better example of this complex duality than…
Episode 312, “My Final Gift To You” which sees Ryo attempt to have it all, give it all, only to see it all come crashing down. Alex makes us despise Ryo’s actions and yet, at the same time, find compassion and sympathy for that former friend so far gone.
JODELLE FERLAND (FIVE)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
One of my favorite guest stars back on Stargate: Atlantis was a young (13 year old) Jodelle Ferland who played the role of precocious princess Harmony in the episode to the same name. Fast forward some nine years later and she is impressing in an altogether different role as the ship’s tech monkey and defacto spirited mascot. FIVE plays pivotal roles in episodes like “One Last Card To Play” and “Hot Chocolate”, but my pick for her best supporting performance is…
Episode 309, “Isn’t That A Paradox?”, which reminds us that, even though the crew may no longer refer to her as a “kid”, she is still very much a kid at heart, making friends, playing video games in pajamas, but still finding time to help save the day.
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
My choice for this category is an episode that was intended to open the door to a bigger arc involving the introduction of FIVE’s long lost sister, Karina, a surprising connection to the villainous Alicia Reynaud, and the shocking ascendance of a new Big Bad…
Episode 302, “It Doesn’t Have To Be Like This”, finally allows us insight into FIVE’s backstory, revealing the relationships and critical decisions that impacted her life, putting her on the fateful course that landed her on The Raza. Jodelle is wonderful throughout, but especially in those final, heartbreaking moments of FIVE’s trip down memory lane.
ROGER CROSS (SIX)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
Back when we were first casting the role of SIX, I felt heart of the character was distilled down to a single line of dialogue, an exchange with FIVE in which he admits that when, inevitably, she chooses to leave their ragtag crew…”I’m going to miss you, kid. I’m going to miss you a lot.” When delivered correctly, this line would encapsulate the very heart of the Big Brother/Little Sister relationship I sought to capture. Almost every actor who auditioned for the part missed the spirit of the line, and then along came Roger Cross…
Some great moments for SIX in season 3, both in a spotlight and supporting role. In terms of supporting performance, I really liked him in Episode 301 (“Being Better Is So Much Harder”) as he attempts to pick up a fallen TWO and of course in Episode 308 (“Hot Chocolate”) as he attempts to juggle his roles as Raza bad-ass and rebel mediator, but my favorite was…
Episode 310, “Built, Not Born” mostly on the strength of a single scene opposite Zoie Palmer in The Marauder that sees SIX attempt to buoy our Android’s fallen spirits. Roger has a natural warmth and nowhere is it more evident on screen that in this wonderful exchange.
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
Sure, the obvious choice would be Episode 303 (“Welcome To The Revolution”) that sees SIX finally walk the walk he’s been talking since season 2, but I would actually give the nod to…
Episode 307, “I Wish I Could Believe You”, which offers a peek at SIX’s backstory, his friendship with John Anders, and the family he left behind. Roger delivers a compelling performance and never have we felt more sympathy for SIX.
ZOIE PALMER (ANDROID)
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
To think I originally envisioned The Android character as male. Three seasons into the show, I can’t imagine anyone BUT Zoie Palmer in the role. And, while the initial plan was to make the character a more supporting role, Zoie’s early portrayal ensured the Android became as important a crew member as everyone else on board The Raza. I was really torn in trying to select an episode for this category. On the one hand, there was Episode 309, “Isn’t That A Paradox?” which sees her drive the action in her inimitable fashion; but on the other hand, there’s…
Episode 304, “All The Time In The World”. She’s at her funniest dealing with an increasingly harried THREE and at her most dramatic jumping through her various flash-forwards. Hell, she even sings and dances!
BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
Was there ever any doubt it would be…
Episode 310, “Built, Not Born”, that sees Zoie give a tour-de-force performance as both doomed creator, Dr. Shaw, and conflicted creation. The Android-SIX scene in The Marauder in which he reminds her how special she is, Android’s conversation with FIVE on the merits of smiling, Android’s heart to heart with THREE over whiskey and hot chocolate – some of my favorites of the entire series.
So, those are my votes. What do you all think? What were your favorite Supporting and Lead Performances for each cast member?
THIS is the blog entry you’ve all been waiting for. Melissa O’Neil, Dark Matter’s TWO, answers YOUR questions. And there are A LOT of them so let’s not waste anytime and get to it.
But first, let me just say this about the lovely Melissa. I remember watching her very first audition for the role of the kick-ass commander of The Raza and knowing, immediately, that SHE was the one. And having Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza walk into my office to inform me that she thought SHE was the one. And then receiving a call from my longtime writing/producing partner Paul Mullie telling me that he thought SHE was the one. And Melissa proved us right from day one in consistently spectacular fashion.
QUESTIONS ABOUT DARK MATTER AND THE CAST
Carlytto: “Would you eliminate One to take his number spot?”
Two might. I wouldn’t dream of it.
Kabra: “Do you have to keep Joe in line you do with the rest of the Raza Crew?”
It’s really the other way around. I can barely colour within the lines!
Craig M: “If there was one character/actor in S2 you’d like to see TWO hang out with/have more scenes with, who would it be?”
It’s hard to choose because I love the two hander scenes that TWO has on the ship.
After S1, I would have said FOUR, because we don’t get to see the two of them working together all that much; after S2, it’s still hard to choose, but I’ll go with Nyx. It’s really fun having another woman on the ship.
Thogar: “What’s your favourite part of working on Dark Matter?”
I enjoy being exposed to so many creative people in all of their varied disciplines in one environment. It’s the only job I’ve had where everyone populates the same space for extended periods of time. If I’m being mindful, Hurry Up and Wait can easily turn into Hurry Up, Pause, and Learn.
“Who’s the biggest goofball on set? ”
I know you want to think it’s Anthony but IMHO it’s actually ROGER CROSS
“Who flubs their lines the most?”
Are you trying to get me in trouble, Thogar?
“Practical joker on set?”
One of the camera assistants, occasional focus puller, Michael Purdon
For April Fools this past season he busted into our trailers and put tape marks on the ground for us where he thought we might stand the most. I don’t know if that’s a practical joke. But he does silly things around set to keep things light.
“Will you and the cast be live tweeting again this year?”
I’ll certainly be making an effort to do so, and I imagine so will the others, schedules permitting! It’s so fun hanging out while watching it for the first time with you guys! Maybe some periscoping this year, too!
Hadley: “I was wondering how it’s been working with Melanie (Liburd)?”
An absolute joy. She is a dedicated professional with grace, style, and wit to spare.
Skywatcher: “Are you learning martial arts with Alex Mallari (Jr.)?”
No! But I should! Homeboy is in the dungeon training all the time and his dedication is inspirational. We’ve only jammed on set a few times about stances and footwork.
Silver: “What is it like to work with Zoie Palmer?”
Zoie, arguably, has the most difficult gig on this ship. The technical jargon she has to get her mouth around is a feat in and of itself but layer in all of the subtleties of a unique personality matrix and her carefully crafted take on how an android might communicate facially, physically, and tonally – AND THEN, watch her turn it all off in-between scenes and just hang out?
What is it like to work with Zoie Palmer? F*%^ing Impressive.
Jeffrey: “Who is the most hilarious person in the Dark Matter Cast?”
See above. Just wait until the outtakes for Two and Android come out. It’s insanity.
Janie: “What do you think the significance is to the order the crew wakes up?”
You know, I’ve never asked Joe that question. I imagine it had a lot to with the initial characters introductions and setting up that vortex of mistrust based off of ‘who woke up first’, and, because Joe seems to takes an impish delight in misdirecting, SIX woke up last.
bambamfans: “I’m a fan of the ONE/TWO relationship or OTR. I imagine incarceration will put a halt to it. Where do you see their relationship headed in Season 2?”
I saw their relationship go in a direction that took me by surprise. It’ll be interesting to see how the audience receives it!
“Now that they are off the Raza, will any of the characters use their real names rather than the numbers?”
Identity is a big thing that we deal with on this show. Being confronted with their actions in the past as a person who no longer remembers that time has been met differently by each character. TWO, for example wants to be as far away from whoever Portia is/was. With Season Two just around the corner, we’ll have to see if that’s the case for everyone.
“What’s the coolest scene you filmed for Episode 209 (written by my favourite person, Ivon Bartok)?”
I loved shooting episode 209 for reasons that will be abundantly clear when you see it.
We always have great, talented guest stars on the show but these guys were hilarious. Two of them had me in stitches for most of one day. The *coolest* scene was the day we shot a big fight and I learned that you can give someone ‘God Status’ by shooting them with their waist above the horizon. Peter Deluise directed that episode. I learned a lot from watching him.
MaggieL80 & Janie: “Favourite Set?”
It’s a new one… you only get a glimpse of it S2 but if we’re lucky, you’ll be seeing lots more of it in S3!
TheOtherOne: “In Season 2 are One and Two ‘a couple’ (do they still get a discount when using Transfer Transit?)”
We’ll have to see, TheOther’One’.
“Who did you think was the mole before you actually found out?”
6! I thought it was 6 and while we were shooting our EPK I impulsively changed guess to 3! I was completely miffed.
Jeffrey: “I was wondering how much are you looking forward to Season 2 of Dark Matter?”
Very much so! I think it’s so neat that we (the cast) get to see it for the first time the same time as you do!
Thogar: “Has your experience filming in season 2 changed from last year? If so, in what ways?”
Absolutely, it feels that much more familiar, and comfortable. A by product of feeling at ease in my working environment is having confidence in taking chances, in letting myself voice things that I feel are important, and getting to know the phenomenal people around me just a little bit more.
Anthrod127 & MaggieL80: “What was your favourite scene or episode of Dark Matter and why?”
I am huge fan of the two-episode pilot. Not only was it entertaining to watch, it was also very exciting to be a part of creating. Joe and Paul have had this brain baby for YEARS and the energy on set during that time was something I won’t soon forget. It was also my first time doing anything on camera and learning so many things all at once. I was creating new brain synapses all of the place. So green. Sooo Happy!
QUESTIONS ABOUT TWO
Joanne Verbeek: “Will we learn more about TWO’s back story?”
You can bet on it! You might have to wait a little bit but we will get there. A lot happens this Season.
daithis82, John Paulson, anthrord127, and my mom: “Will we see TWO singing in Season 2?”
It’s very flattering to be asked about this! No. There will be no singing from TWO in S2. And, not that anyone asked, but I think the circumstances would have to be just so in order for TWO singing to not stick out like a sore thumb in the world of Dark Matter.
Thogar: “How do Season One’s revelations about TWO’s background affect your character in S2?”
In one sense they pose more questions than answers. In another, they give her the confidence to be dismissive about personal challenges as they arise. They also give her a sense that she can pursue answers and handle any personal weaknesses on her own.
Randomness: “What would be your ideal alternate universe persona for TWO?”
In the world of Dark Matter… oh my. Well, based on her creation story I guess it would be neat to see who she would be if her training had gone well and she rose through the ranks at Dwarf Star Technologies. Or, if she was a commodity purchased by one of the corps and was some kind of sleeper agent working a noodle booth… Or if something went awry with her nanites and she aged so rapidly that she was this crazy kick ass old granny lady. Or, again bad nanites that didn’t help her heal after whatever happened to her in those medical facilities and she then suffered terrible disfigurements. That last one I think would be really fun… It would be neat to explore how that incarnation of TWO would interact with the world. People who look differently are often received differently and so they adjust their behaviours appropriately to either protect themselves or exploit that knowledge. Also! I’ve always been very interested by mask work.
“If TWO and Alex Rook were alone in a room together, with no one around for miles, how pleasant would the atmosphere be?”
Pleasant enough until that was no longer working.
MaggieL80: “Do you have any say on your wardrobe?”
Our wonderful costume designer, Noreen, and her ladies do all of the shopping and designing for the show based off the vision the team of Dark Matter has set out. They’re very generous about making sure I feel comfortable in what I’m wearing. It’s as collaborative as time will allow.
Dream: “What do you personally relate most to about your character?”
Her drive to have everyone work as a team and look out for each other.
“Are there are special technical abilities you’d like to see your character develop via her internal bots?”
I would like to see the bots be open to continued modifications. In my mind I imagine microscopic usb ports. Kind of like the way engineers are now creating custom tuning knobs for gene’s. Maybe try out some black market tech. Well, I guess I should say – MORE black market tech.
Mike A.” Are there any character plot points you’d like to see happen with TWO?”
I’m a romantic. It’d be neat to see her juggle a most distracting thing like love. Although, considering her origins, I am not sure if this is a drive for her unless it presents itself organically.
(funny you should mention that repressed memory in your original question though…)
“Would you ever like to see TWO dress in colours other than black?”
Sure. It would be a welcome challenge. I’ve quite conditioned to feel safe in black. Not by the show. Just in general.
Jonathan Brewer: “What would TWO prepare as a meal? And what would be her comfort food?”
Food is Fuel. It would probably be something boring. Space food that is easy, quickly consumed and digested. Her comfort food… an avocado. Because they’re delicious.
Templeton: “Since we begin season in a prison, will TWO get a prison tattoo?”
I wish! Straight across the knuckles, eh? I imagine if she got a tattoo it would have likely been against her will. Probably something comparable to QR codes with an RFID chip element to it. Easily scanned and tracked. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Shinyhula: “When it comes to the score or saving lives she seems to value life more. What do you think that says about her synth origins? What do you think informs TWO’s code of ethics?”
Great observation. At the risk of this answer being redacted – know that a partial answer to this question can be found in the thick of Season 2. I don’t feel that I can safely venture into this territory without risking some spoilers. It’s difficult to unlearn things. I’ll say that with regards to the memory loss, for my own logic seeking mind, I’ve compartmentalized her losses to events. This would allow for latent skills to surface periodically – like in do or die situations where survival instincts kick in, but would have, essentially, removed the events that caused whoever Rebecca was, to become Portia. I like to think that she (TWO) is who Rebecca would have been had she not seen and experienced the things that ultimately made her escape Dwarf Star Technologies.
Greene: “What do you think is TWO’s greatest strength and her biggest weakness?”
I think TWO’s greatest strength is her common sense, her ability to gauge a situation and see clear, efficient paths to getting shit done: whether that be through brute strength, diplomacy, or strategic intrigue.
Her greatest weakness is her bull-headedness, and her belief that she always knows what’s up. Generally, people with that attitude can only run with that for so long before they trip up and get it wrong. Other than that, her greatest weakness is the fact that she’s illegal tech. If she ends up in the wrong system, who knows what might happen?
Duping: “What might be what you consider the best and worst aspects of your character? Has TWO awakened any internal perspectives in what you may wish to incorporate for your self?”
IMHO, TWO’s ‘best’ quality (which is something I, personally, value outside of Dark Matter) is her ability to recognize and sincerely apologize when she has made a misstep. Perceived or otherwise. Worst? Oi. Her tendency to offer unsolicited advice, I guess. Nobody likes *that* guy.
[[I am TOTALLY that guy IRL]] The part in TWO that I would like to incorporate for my self are her leadership qualities!
“Did you secretly want TWO to be the traitor?”
Yes! First of all, who doesn’t want to be the bad guy? Second, it’s a product of my profession that my inner dialogue is perpetually, ‘I think I can do it. Fake it till you make it! Pick me!’.
Silver: “What is one thing you wish your character could do and one thing that she did but you wish she didn’t?”
I wish she could go toe to toe with THREE on his witty (and no so witty) asides. I wish she didn’t… I don’t have one for that. Not that I think she’s perfect but I like her because of that.
Krista: “What does TWO enjoy doing in her downtime?”
I like to think that she enjoys puzzles. Cool holographic, time sensitive 3D puzzles that require uninterrupted focus. She probably contemplates her existence and scours the ‘web’ for any and all things related to Dwarf Star Technologies. Works to understand the ship a bit more. Eat Peanut Butter. Run simulations that help her quiet her mind. Train. Other misc secret alone female things that allow her to maintain her sanity on a ship filled with 4 men, an android and an adolescent.
TheOtherOne: “I have noticed in the photos Joe has posted here that your attitude appears different… more sassy. Is this Rebecca’s (or Portia’s) original character pushing through?”
AHA! This is more than likely just me being a knob in costume and hamming it up. That said, Portia is rather sassy.
“Is her character exactly what you were expecting?”
EXACTLY. No, not exactly. I make efforts to not go into new jobs with too many expectations. It’s a very limited, restrictive way of thinking.
JeffW: “Two is an intense, driven character… how are you like and unlike her and what aspects of her character do you most admire?”
I think we’re both a little lonely and feel like we can and so we should do it on our own. We’re both clear communicators. We will talk things through until the cows come home and then have a bit more to say the following day. We both trust our gut instincts implicitly and will fight for what we believe is right. I can’t kick real life ass they way she does and I’m nowhere near as comfortable in my own skin.
Duping: “What might be what you consider the best and worst aspects of your character? Has TWO awakened any internal perspectives in what you may wish to incorporate for your self?”
IMHO, TWO’s ‘best’ quality (which is something I, personally, value deeply outside of Dark Matter) her ability to recognize and sincerely apologize when she has made a misstep. Perceived or otherwise. Worst? Oi. Her tendency to offer unsolicited advice, I guess. Nobody likes *that* guy.
[[I am TOTALLY that guy IRL]] The part in TWO that I would like to incorporate for my self is her role as leader.
Dream: “What intrigues you most about your character TWO and what keeps you believing/so deeply invested in her?”
As time goes on, I am most intrigued by exploring her potential to be imprecise. Not to say that she’s prone to error, but she’s not infallible either.
RE: belief and deep investment. There is no other option.
On a personal level, I am forever indebted to the OG’s of Dark Matter that took a chance on a Canadian chorus girl trying to get out of New York… I know that we’re in space and going on adventures and, really, it’s ridiculous what I get to do for a job – but I take it seriously!
Mike A: “Did you do any ‘prep work’ for your role as TWO in respect to strong female leads?”
I prepped TWO like any character. It wasn’t “TWO – THE STRONG FEMALE LEAD”, it was just “WHO IS TWO”. From the script and the world in which she emerges the clues are in her actions, her interactions, the times when she chooses to speak, when she holds her tongue… I could go on. You get the idea.
STUNTS on DARK MATTER
Joanne Verbeek: “Prepping for scenes – how much time do you spend training for fight scenes?”
That largely depends on how long the fight sequence is. If it’s just a couple of quick hits, we’ll do it on the day of shooting. If it’s a longer, more complicated piece, we’ll lay down the choreography 2-5 days in advance, film it on our iPhones, and go home and practice on our own time until we shoot it.
EvilDroid & jorie74 &Janie: “Between you & the powers that be on the set, how do you decide when a stunt double is used in a scene? Do you ever insist that you do it even though a stunt double is recommended? Have you ever tried a stunt scene & then decided it would be better for a double to perform the scene? What is your worst injury if any on Dark Matter?”
For the most part, I do not decide. Our fight director, John Stead makes those calls and I can’t recall a time where I have ever insisted that I do something against his recommendation. John knows my strengths and a lot of the fights are built within my capabilities. While we don’t often use my incredibly talented stunt double, Anita Nittoly, there are specific scenario’s where John insists (and with good reason) that stunt doubles are used. These situations include fights where an actor is up against another actor, or when a character takes a huge hit that involves a large fall, pull, or glass. I enjoy doing the fights because they are challenging and fun but I have no feelings of ownership over this part of TWO. Whatever serves the story best is all that matters to me. If Anita looks better doing the back roll (because she does), then we should use her for that shot. *I* am not TWO. TWO is created by many, many people.
I get marked up and bruise easily but I can’t recall a real injury at this moment.
John Stead, his team, and Anita have kept me safe. I’m a very lucky gal.
Thogar: “Did you manage to avoid accidentally tattooing yourself on that fancy looking floor this year?”
“Did you have to learn any new fighting skills, or any other skills for season two?”
Ahraf alshahaway: “Do you get martial arts lessons during shooting or you already had?”
I did some tae kwon doe when I was a kid but nothing else that’s worth mentioning.
I’ve always been athletic – a lot of basketball and rugby growing up. Yoga and weight training as an adult. Body awareness helps a great deal with choreography.
bambamfans: “Is there an upcoming fight sequence you can’t wait for us to see? Does TWO get any new weapons?”
Omigoodness Yes and YES! But we don’t see them as much as I would like us to. Each time I would read the script and see TWO working with a new weapon I would reach for the phone and text Joe a big “THHHAAANNKKK YYYOOOUUU”
Mike A: “Does Alex share any kind of workout tips for you with respect to combat scenes?”
We haven’t jammed like that. But we could be found doing some ballet barre on S2. Gun, leather holsters and all!
QUESTIONS RELATED TO ACTING
Kara: “What or who influenced you into an acting career? What is the most challenging aspect about acting for you?”
I think the first time I truly looked at story telling as something I *had* to do was when I was lucky enough to be a cast in the musical ensembles for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2011. Before that time, I had never encountered so many phenomenally talented artists, in all their different mediums, all working together to tell a story. I felt totally out of place and I wanted to be in the club so badly. It was inspiring to say the least. The most challenging aspect about acting is working with the inner voice that I developed in that place, the voice that I have to make work *for* me, the voice that says, “I KNOW NOTHING!”.
Jorie74: “How does it feel to play a character that is pretty non-objectified?”
It makes me feel both proud and relieved. Proud that I am working with a group of people who keep these things in mind not because it is trendy and topical, but because they feel it’s important and, beyond that, not relevant to the story. Relieved because being objectified as some kind of gimmick or trope would wear me thin and I’m not sure I’d handle it with perfect grace. Also, I like that it gives the space to potentially explore a character being objectified, whether that is TWO or any other character of any gender or orientation.
daithi82: “What is it like coming from a musical background to a show like Dark Matter?”
It’s hard to even compare them considering the content alone! Dark Matter is a stark contrast from the world of a sung-through musical set in 19th century France; however, that’s not where I find the greatest difference – it’s in the process of creation. Musicals have rehearsals, previews, openings, runs; Dark Matter has read throughs, homework, blocking, shooting, and a whole set of ‘authors’ long after they’ve called cut. For me, the challenge on stage is finding truthfulness, retaining it while continuing to discover and keep alive a story that you are telling over and over, night after night. The challenge on screen is being prepared, so you can be present and truthfully respond in the moment while listening and then to let go of it all. It can be quite a bizarre experience watching things after they’ve been edited and pieced together.
Elminster: “What drew you to Dark Matter? The high energy action scenes, the mystery, a show set in space? Or was it something else?”
The opportunity! My first experience with staged combat was through Les Mis and it lit me up. I wanted to fight more! I had a couple of trusted friends during my time in NY and we used to share secret ambitions. I talked to them about how I had been thinking fighting and working on screen. I wanted to take some on camera classes before expressing my intentions to my agent and not even two classes in, out of nowhere, Daniel Birnbaum (my agent) called me with an audition for something. I got close to two other parts before ultimately booking Dark Matter!
MaggieL80: “Do you have an actor/actress that you’d love to work with? Dream Role?”
Steve Buscemi or Kevin Spacey. Or Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep – they both just seem so cool. I imagine it would be a masterclass to watch any of them work in person. Currently, my dream role would be any of the three Schuyler sisters or Aaron Burr in the OUT OF THIS WORLD, BEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO BROADWAY, GIFT FROM LIN MANUEL MIRANDA – HAMILTON!!
Manuel: “For storytelling, which do you prefer between theatre and film?”
I hesitate to answer this properly because I feel like I am still so new to this world and way of telling a story… I plead the fifth.
“When filming, how close to the script do you like to play it? do you like to ad lib and explore different approaches to the scenes where possible?”
I am not one of the ad-libbers on our set. When I do ad-lib it rarely changes the context or intention and has more to do with naturalizing the text in TWO’s voice. Often times, TWO is imparting story information. It’s important to not free-style that stuff.
“When you get a script do you read the whole thing first or focus in on who’s butt TWO is kicking?”
The scripts MUST be read! I’ll admit, there are occassions when the first time I read it through top to bottom is at our cast read-through. Each character story-line is connected to the big web – it’s important to know how all of the characters are contributing to that world while keeping in mind what your own character knows and does not know.
ceresis64: “What were your first impressions when working with a ‘green screen’?”
All I remember from the first time we worked with a green screen is our VFX supervisor, Lawren Bancroft-Wilson jumping up and down with all his might to get his markers up as high as he possibly could. I giggled. I think he was still holding his laptop in the crook of his left arm for the first few jumps, too.
Jorie74: “When do you think they’ll bring a four-legged character into the fold?”
Not soon enough. Also, if I’m not in that scene I will force tears.
Wayne Hughes: ” Are people inherently good/bad? Are we merely the sum of our memories, the rest is environmental conditioning? Are we more than either of these philosophies? Do we have the ability to choose?”
Diggin’ Deep! I love jamming on this stuff. How do I abbreviate my thoughts on this?
I don’t believe people are born with blank slates. Our environments and specifically the people that we are exposed to and spend the most of our time with as we are developing our brains play a huge part in who we become as adults. I believe we CAN be more than both of these philosophies. If one becomes aware that they can make the effort and then *DOES*, one can change the way their brain works: how you receive stimulus, how you react to said stimulus. The more we pursue and expose ourselves to ideas that are new to us, the more we open our eyes and widen our view, we will be led to the very real and hilarious realization that we don’t know a damn thing and to attempt to have an answer at all is just an exercise in futility. Very. Fun and Stimulating. Futility. I forget which documentary this was – if I find it, I’ll add on to this – in any case, it ended with Stephen Hawking talking about how, ultimately, while this is fun to think about and try to wrap one’s limited brain capacity around, it matters not – Our time with these bodies is so brief. It all comes down to Love.
Thogar: “Are you a science fiction fan? If yes, what are your favourites, apart from Dark Matter?”
I wouldn’t categorize myself as a self-aware sci-fi fan; however, I did grow up consuming Star Trek: TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Fifth Element is one of my all time favourite films. And, like the characters from Portlandia, I lost a week of my life binge watching BSG.
“If you’re part of the Dark Matter Whiskey club (or not), what’s your favourite drink?”
I LOVE WATER!
My attendance to the wolf call is spotty at best. My favourite scotch was Macallan 12 but they changed their names to colours now and I don’t like it. Oban, too. Nothing particularly fancy.
I like a well done old fashioned. I love wine. Currently on a chardonnay kick.
“Do you ever participate in cat shirt tuesdays?”
I only have one cat shirt but I have worn it proudly – twice! It has three fluffy kittens rocking hipster lens-less glasses, huge gangstah chains and it says “TURNT THE HELL UP”. I got it for a toonie at the Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market last summer.
“What’s your favourite thing to find on the craft table?”
Medjool Dates. They’re different from other dates. They’re special. They are nature’s caramel. I am not to be left alone with a collection of them.
Randomness: “If you could travel anywhere in the universe, where would you go and why?”
Anywhere in the UNIVERSE? The place that we have yet to properly discover that can sustain lifeforms and would receive me peacefully. Because I’m curious. If, in this hypothetical situation I couldn’t return to my home I would choose the canopy of a thriving rain forest. Any of them. I want to see trees that make me feel like an ant.
“If the Raza crew ever discovered a planet populated entirely by kittens, do you think that would be the end of TWO’s story?”
Yes. Because Jodelle would likely break out of character and trample me in order to get to them.
MaggieL80: “Favourite movie?”
Oh god. It depends what mood I’m in… Right now? I’d have to say… Amelie.
The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood, Arrogance by Joanna Scott, True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, A general introduction to psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel M. Wegner.
I’m a romantic, sentimental, spiritually-inclined art-lover that enjoys learning about the brain.
Manuel: “Are there any favourite mementos that you may have acquired in season 1?”
There are two cards that I love and still have on my fridge. One says, “Have a great first day. Don’t suck.” The other one says, “From Broadway to Outer Space – Love your Dark Matter Family.”
bambamfans: “What’s going to happen to the fish tank?”
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find an ‘easter egg’.
Maggiemayday: “Which of your costume pieces would make it into your day to day wardrobe?”
The leather holsters.
Dallas Marshall: “Dogs, cats, both, neither?”
Dogs. But, really, ALL OF THE ANIMALS. Especially pigs. They’re super s-m-r-t.
Ceresis64: “What you’re favourite ice cream flavour?”
“What’s been the best prop?”
My favourite prop was seen in Season One but didn’t land in TWO’s hands until late in Season Two. It’s a weapon. And I like it. A lot.
(Jay314271: “If Android is #0, then on April 20, how about a picture with #4, you, and Android in an appropriate pose and setting?”
Listen, we clearly missed the deadline on this but I smell what you’re steppin’ in and I dig it.
“Rumour is you are the youngest daughter of Gen. Jack O’Neil USAF Retired and the godchild of Teal’c. Mother’s identity is classified. True, False, or no comment…?”
I won’t lie that I had to do a bit of googling to get away from the idea that you were enjoying a bit too much of your 4-2-0. Nice tie in! I feel so included with the O’Neil shout out and TWO reference so thanks for that! This all remains to be seen, I suppose. The details of TWO’s actual creation are still a little muddy, so – maybe? Slash… I probably should have gone with No Comment.
Greene: “Do you still have an overwhelming urge to do your own sound effects?”
Yes. On and Off camera. In and out of character. Doesn’t everyone?
Thogar: “What are you going to do once you’re done filming Season Two?”
Save for a week and a half of biking around the city and trying to make time go slow, things have been pretty crazy. I went to London a week before the MCM Comic Con and checked out the live music scene. One highlight was a night at Jazz Cafe Camden where I saw artists from Label 22a turn me inside out. The Comic Con was fun! Great to put in some face time with viewers from across the pond and to hang with our cast and make new friends. Then I flew direct to Montreal where I have been shooting and am about to wrap on a new project by Duncan Shiek and Kyle Jarrow. It’s been a lot of hotel time this month.
Ponytail: “What do you want to do next in a few years when Dark Matter is over? What’s next on the bucket list?”
Hopefully keep working! When it comes to film and television, as much as I love acting – I feel totally lit up and inspired when talking about and working through things with more of a bird’s eye view. Thinking about the big picture when in the business of story telling vs. the journey of one person truly energizes me on a creative level. I’d like to sing more. Share my original material. I’d like to be in Hamilton the Musical at some point. I want to learn how to dance. I’d like to climb a mountain. See some really big trees. Create more space in my life for friendships. You know. Life stuff.
Rich S: “Did you wait on tenterhooks like the rest of us to see if Dark Matter was renewed? Or already looking for the next job?”
I was neither here nor there. Of course, I was looking forward to hearing about whether or not we would get renewed – just to know – but I wasn’t actively seeking employment to replace it either. We were going to find out eventually and there were only two possible outcomes. No need for stress.
“Do you have to check with anyone before taking a role?”
Yes. I’ll add that I’ve never once felt limited by that. My agent and I work together with DM in mind at all times. It’s home base.
“I’m a big fan of Idol but I’m in Australia and we don’t get the Canadian version. What was your toughest challenge on the show?”
At 16, I had not been exposed to a great deal of music. During the week of the top 100 we had to learn at least one new song each day and have it memorized for our performances. The last day of that week (solo-day) there was no room left in my brain. I chose ‘Until You Come Back To Me’ by Aretha Franklin. After an all too brief melt-down in the bathroom, I was ushered onto the big stage where I would not be allowed off for 2 minutes. My mind went blank after the first two lines… I then sang a bit of On My Own from Les Mis, botched that, so I did the vocal jazz scat from Jungle Book… Yeah. They later told me I made it in to the top 32 because I was the only person who kept performing even after they forgot their lines.
KEEP GOING UNTIL THEY CALL CUT, Peeps!
“What’s been your most challenging episode to film to date and why?”
It happened in Season Two. I didn’t have to say or do much. I find it most challenging to stay present and ‘alive’ after the 8 take of standing around and listening. Background work is very challenging!
“You mentioned that you played Second Life (does one ‘play’ SL?), and you voiced a major character in The Division. Do you play games yourself, and if so, what?”
You Can play in Second Life… Rabbit hole! I veto this topic. I successfully pulled myself out of that world after I realized how expensive it was. In time, energy, and money! There’s a lot of creativity happening in that environment. It’s a very addictive distraction.
The character I voiced in The Division is named Faye Lau. I enjoy some video games, Fable is fun, Mass Effect, LA NOIR. It’s been awhile. I got rid of my television and gaming console in 2011 and haven’t gone back. I was (am) a guitar hero fiend.
no1zoiepalmerfan: “What was your initial reaction when you found out you got the role of TWO?”
Holy Shit. I’m moving back to Canada!!!
“If you could play any other character on the show, who would it be and why?”
THEY’RE ALL SO COOL!
Android – because Zoie’s job terrifies me. Run to the things you are afraid of, friends! I don’t know how she does it. As a personal exercise in imitation, I have tried at home and it’s embarrassing. I wouldn’t ever want someone to see how poorly I do a Zoie inspired Android.
Mike A: “How often do you bring your dog on set?”
My sweet puppy… Tehya was coming to set with me almost every day. I was very lucky to find an incredible dog walker named Amanda that was 10 minutes away from our studio. Tehya made some great friends during this last season and enjoyed a lot of time hiking outside.
Gforce: “What other job would be your dream job? What do you think you would have ended up doing if not in entertainment?”
I would have probably become a teacher. That’s the trajectory I was looking at while in school. Now? Outside of entertainment, dream jobs would include, a psychologist as a researcher, going back to teaching yoga, or having my own art gallery.
jay314271: “How long can you hold your breath in real life?”
I just timed myself. 1 minute and .76 seconds.
“What city do you want to visit the most (as in never been before)?”
Currently, Vienna. There’s a museum there that I’ve been dating through instagram for some time.
“10 years ago, if someone said you’d be starring in a science fiction series as an ass kicking, number taking, #2Boss…””
I’d have said, “Can my little brother come, too?
“Any fun Broadway/NYC stories you care to share?”
Tonnes. I’ll try to keep it brief.
Growing up, the only musicals I was aware of were Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Miserables. Every Easter, JCS would be on TV and everyone would doggy pile onto my parents’ bed and watch it in their room. And, I have very fond memories of my ma sewing while I would do homework – we’d listen to her cassette tape of Les Mis and belt out Master of The House. Being able to do both of these shows on Broadway was a serious check off the childhood dreams list that I didn’t even know I had.
The first time on Broadway was so fun. I was in love, working with friends that felt like family and most of us were celebrating our debuts! We closed on Canada Day. It was hilarious. On that first day off we watched The Wizard of OZ outside in Bryant Park with what felt like half of Manhattan. The second time around was hard. I felt far away from family and friends but I’m grateful for that time. Personally and professionally, I learned and grew a great deal. Also, I fell in love with Art that year. Can you imagine really seeing Art for the first time at 25?!?!
“Do you have a favourite opera?”
No. I’m not terribly familiar with that world but I could listen to Diana Damrau sing Queen of the Night forever. https://youtu.be/lJJW0dE5GF0?t=1m40s
mojo & greene: “What do you like to do on your day off / when you get a little down time?”
I like to bike ride, hang out with my dog, do yoga, enjoy an excellent meal at any of the great restaurants that are always popping up in Toronto, share time and space with people that are important to me. This year I’m trying to create a habit of doing things outside of my comfort zone – like dancing!
stairclimber: “What is your favourite song right now?”
TheOtherOne: “Where were you when you heard you’d got the part of TWO?”
I was backstage in the underbelly of the Imperial Theatre during Act 2 of Les Miserables. I had about 5 minutes before my entrance for the barricades sequence. Daniel (my agent and friend) was on the phone and asked me if I was sitting, if I was ready. I don’t remember much after that besides for, “You need to give your notice. TONIGHT.” I remember exactly where I was standing. I could hear the orchestra through the stage right wings and the cabs honking just outside the stage door behind me. It was incredible to land this massive opportunity. All of this was amplified by the twisted bit of pleasure I got from the fact that I had to keep it a secret. I’m good at keeping secrets. It truly gives me glee.
“How did you celebrate?”
A proper celebration didn’t happen until I was back in Toronto. I took Daniel to a wonderful restaurant called George. We were gluttons that night and indulged in a 7 course tasting menu. None of this would have happened without him. It was a proper celebration and we waddled out hours later.
jojo: “Any advice to give a young person looking to be an actor? What can a person do in order to prepare themselves for this career?”
Advice… the blind leading the blind! It’s important to remember that there is no set formula and everyone will have their own path and set of recommendations.
Much of this industry is not in the actor’s control. What you can do, is commit to being a student, someone that is aware that there is always more to learn and ways to grow, to acknowledge that you don’t know much but are willing to learn.
Not everyone agrees with school but it works for some that like structure. I really liked the book ‘TRUE and FALSE – heresy and common sense for the actor’ by David Mamet. I know I shouldn’t share things out of context, but here is one of my favourite quotes from the book, “Invent Nothing, Deny Nothing, Speak Up, Stand Up, Stay Out of School.”
Alright! We’ve finally reached the end of the Q&A! My sincere apologies for the great delay. It’s been a rather busy time. Thank you for taking the time to ask me these questions. It was so great to reflect on times that I haven’t thought about in so long and to share thoughts and experiences that are quite dear to me that I am usually never asked about. Thank you for your patience for all of my run on sentences and if you made it to the very end, thank you for sticking it out! Thank you to Joe for hosting!
Lots of Love! See you guys at the SEASON TWO PREMIERE! CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS AND KEEP IN TOUCH THROUGH TWITTER! xoxox – Moneil.
I’m pleased to announce that Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter’s kick-ass commander, TWO) has happily offered to find the time in her busy shooting and stunt rehearsal schedule to answer YOUR questions. Leave your burning queries in this blog’s comments section. I’ll gather them over the course of the next three or four days and then send them her way. She’s ready…
So post ’em if you got ’em.
A few behind-the-scene photos of a rare Saturday second unit shoot.
Director Mairzee Almas sets up at her impromptu work station.
A couple of questions here. What’s the deal with that cage? And what the heck are those metal obstructions?
Oh, okay. Now about that cage…
Um, this does NOT bode well.
And neither does this.
The Art Department sets up the big marshmallow-roast sequence.
I couldn’t ask for better company! From left to right: On-Set Costumes Supervisor Jozie Conte, Script Supervisor Carolyn Arbuckle, Key Hair Renee Chan, Key Make-Up Lynda McCormack, and On-Set Key Props Nicola Moss. Not pictured: EVERYONE ELSE!
Looks like another busy week ahead. Ivon will be out on location, overseeing the action with Director Mairzee Almas, while I prep Episode 212 with Stargate alum Will Waring (who hasn’t changed a bit!). Wonder how he’ll work a pineapple into THIS episode. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about (Pineapple?) or don’t know Will, here’s a past fan Q&A to get you up to date:
I’m in the editing room tomorrow afternoon with fabulous editor Ben Wilkinson, finishing my pass on Peter DeLuise’s director’s cut of Episode 208 (I’m just going to go ahead and boldly declare it a fan favorite)…which means it’s time for you, the fans, to vote on a NEW episode title. Stay tuned to this blog for details!
’til next time…
P.S. Did I mentioned Melissa O’Neil has agreed to do a fan Q&A and that you should definitely post your questions for her?
Finishing up my overview of our wonderful cast, we finally come to the character of TWO.
Here’s the breakdown that went out for the role:
“AKA Boss Lady, AKA Portia Lin. NIKITA-ESQUE, BEAUTIFUL, SOFT- FEATURED. THE GROUP’S DE FACTO LEADER, SHE IS A MASTER FIGHTER and an unbelievably quick learner when it comes to any sort 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. LOOKING FOR SOMEONE FIT, PREFERABLY WITH FIGHTING EXPERIENCE. ALL ETHNICITIES.”
By far, this was the role that saw the most auditions. When all was said and done, over 250 candidates had read for the part. We had a lot of interesting possibilities but one, for me, stood out amongst the rest. I received her audition, a rare self-tape, from New York where she’d been on Broadway appearing in Les Miserables.
Her name was Melissa O’Neil and she was everything I was looking for in the character – someone with obvious strength and a commanding presence and yet, at the same time, sympathetic and possessed of an underlying warmth. Too much of the former and one risked making the character unlikable. Too much of the latter and one risked making her seem weak. It was a very, very tough balancing act that most were unable to pull off, but one that Melissa managed to deliver with ease. She also had MMA and martial arts experience which was a huge plus because, next to the character of FOUR, TWO was our most technically proficient fighter. The rest of the crew were brawlers but she needed to be an expert in the use of weapons and hand to hand combat.
One of the things that impressed me about Melissa early on was her positive outlook and commitment to her craft and character. She was a stunt coordinator’s (not to mention a director’s and show runner’s) dream, training like crazy, rehearsing complex action sequences on weekends so that she could nail them on the day. The editors loved her because she was so good at fight choreography that we could actually stay on her in the wide shots rather than having to cut around to her stunt double. Like the character she played, Melissa was an incredibly quick learner who picked up enough moves to give me pause whenever I debated story points with her.
When all is said and done, however, I’ll forever remember the enthusiastic emails exchanged shortly after we received her audition. Some of the highlights: “I’m so excited about her”, “That second scene was near perfection”, “Top of my list”, “I think she’s really special and fresh”, and “She’s ready to break!”
We all knew we had a star in the making. And, in about a month, I believe we’ll be proven right.
A sneak peek at the Dark Matter season finale. In the final shot, the crew enters the bridge as this season’s mysterious Big Bad swivels around in the command chair to reveal their true identity: Space Cat!
See, this is the type of behind the scenes photos fans love. Actor Anthony Lemke (Dark Matter’s THREE) eats an egg salad sandwich.
While actor Roger Cross (Dark Matter’s SIX) enjoys his morning coffee. Try to take it away from him and THIS happens –
Meanwhile, back on the ship –
Someone forgot actress Jodelle Ferland (Dark Matter’s FIVE) in the airlock!
Actor Alex Mallari Jr. (Dark Matter’s FOUR) shuttles our special guest star back to her trailer between scenes.
Actor Marc Bendavid (Dark Matter’s ONE) wants your coffee.
Actress Zoie Palmer (Dark Matter’s Android) keeping Space Cat’s seat warm.
And, yes. Actress Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter’s TWO) also wants your coffee.
Today, we shot two of the most important scenes of this first season (if not the entire series), and every member of our cast – Marc Bendavid, Melissa O’Neil, Anthony Lemke, Alex Mallari Jr., Jodelle Ferland, Roger Cross, and Zoie Palmer – delivered BIGTIME. Sitting at the monitors, watching them in their first scene together, I found myself magically cross over from professional observer to mesmerized viewer as their onscreen characters took on a life of their own. The lines separating fact and fiction, fantasy and reality had blurred and I’d been transported. And the first thought that entered my head was: “I’m going to love watching this show!”
This cast is AWESOME!
A couple of behind-the-scenes snippets:
The gang (Alex Mallari Jr., Anthony Lemke, Roger Cross, and Trevor Finn) show craft server Cathy some love.
The exterior of the ship’s underbelly where secrets reside. Oh, and the cast because that’s where they hang out between set-ups.
Our Dark Matter screen grab of the day (from yesterday’s dailies):
And, of course, on the heels of last blog entry’s Carlton Dance comes a little MJ c/o Alex Mallari Jr. (aka. FOUR). Go say hi to him on twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexMallariJr #FOURCLAN #DARKMATTER
And while you’re in the twitter neighborhood, why not drop in on the entire crew:
ONE (Marc Bendavid): Apparently, not on twitter. Yet.
TWO (Melissa O’Neil): https://twitter.com/Mel13Oneil
THREE (Anthony Lemke): https://twitter.com/ranthonylemke
FOUR (Alex Mallari Jr.): https://twitter.com/AlexMallariJr
FIVE (Jodelle Ferland): https://twitter.com/jodellemicah
SIX (Roger Cross): https://twitter.com/therogercross
THE ANDROID (Zoie Palmer): https://twitter.com/ZoiePalmer
This year is going to be A LOT of fun!