When the crew of Dark Matter wakes up, with no memory of who they are and what they are doing on board a spaceship, they may have more than just each other to worry about. Members of the new Syfy/Space channel adventure series, premiering Friday, June 12 at 10 p.m. ET, will also be dealing with another unknown element on board the ship – an Android with total control over all the ship’s on board systems.
Lost Girl alum Zoie Palmer was given the not so easy task of bringing this sometimes child-like character to life. The TV Junkies spoke with Palmer about her new role, the challenges involved with it, what’s in store for the Android in Season 1 and why fans should get excited for Dark Matter.
The TV Junkies: Having ended your run on Lost Girl, a show that ran for 5 seasons and had a cast that was very close to one another, what’s it like starting over on a new show, learning a new character? How has that experience been?
Zoie Palmer: It’s been great. When I first began it was strange a little bit only because it’s the same production company and some of the same producers [as Lost Girl]. It’s like when you move up to a different grade but you’re in the same school, but you’re in a different grade with a new teacher. I was a little bit nervous and working with a whole new cast and figuring each other out and learning about each other. It was everything from a little bit nerve-wracking to really exciting to start something new, start a new character and figure out how to do that. This character is so different [from Lauren on Lost Girl] that in some ways I had to completely abandon the character of Lauren and figure out this character, which is just nothing like her — in every way from I’m not even playing a human on this show.
TTVJ: Exactly. How does one prepare for playing a robot?
ZP: That was my question too, ‘How do you do that?’ It was a bit of a journey, but it’s been amazing.
TTVJ: Did you base your performance off any other characters that we’ve seen before?
ZP: No I purposefully didn’t. You can’t really, especially any character that is infamous like any of the really famous robot-esque characters on television shows, for me to try to emulate any of that would be I think a mistake first of all. Also, I don’t even want to do that. I want to create a character myself. If this show goes on a few years I hope that I’ll learn how to evolve her as a character over the years and the writers will do the same. We’ll come up with our own character that is unique to Dark Matter, that’s kind of my hope. You can’t help but compare, because I’m playing a robot, it will happen, people will ask me that question or they will go, ‘It’s very similar to…’ because there’s only so many things you can do when you’re playing a robot. But no, that wasn’t the intention.
TTVJ: Your robot may be a little different from those we’ve seen though because she’s being described as having a sense of humor. How exactly does a robot get a sense of humor and what’s the most fun part about playing an Android?
ZP: The most fun part is the part that’s been the most challenging, which is how to infuse something that is compelling for people to watch, like how do you make a character like this who doesn’t laugh or cry or emote in any real way, how do you make that character interesting? That’s been the most challenging and therefore the most fun for me. But she does have a bit of a sense of humor from time to time, but it’s more the circumstances she finds herself in, or where she misunderstands a scenario or where she takes something literally when it’s not meant to be.
I think as time goes on, more of that stuff will come out. We’re still in the first season so everybody’s character is a bit of a baby right now. Every character is in their most basic form. When I think of the character of Lauren in Lost Girl and where she began and where she ended up – huge strides in so many different ways. I didn’t even know how that was going to unfold, nor how I would play it as we went on. I think the best is probably yet to come with all of the characters on Dark Matter. As you get more comfortable playing a character you take more risks and you start to try things you may not have thought of in the beginning.
TTVJ: Assuming part of that character growth for the Android is that she becomes more human-like as time goes on, does she build any relationships with the crew members and how does she factor in with the team?
ZP: There’s definitely relationships for sure. She’s on this space ship with 6 other people, and it’s sort of like they are stuck in an elevator together. Whatever her ability to connect with other people is where she’s stretched in that way. I think about it in that if you do get stuck in an elevator with people, when you first get into an elevator no one looks at each other, no one talks to each other, but the minute it’s stuck between floors they are your five best friends in the world. Immediately. In an instant everyone immediately connects. I think this situation is similar in that they are in this scenario and they have to figure it out and they only have each other. The robot is no different in that way.
TTVJ: The Android has control over all of the ship’s systems which sounds like the potential for her to wreak some havoc or stir up trouble for the team. Is it safe to assume we’ll see her use that power to her advantage against the crew? How does that come into play?
ZP: I can’t answer that specifically or directly. I can say that the theme of trust on this show is a big one. They don’t know each other and they just met and they are in this crazy situation. If you can imagine waking up on a spaceship with these people that you don’t know so yes, trust is always a thing. They are always never quite sure. The robot is one of them and nobody is ever sure, which is a little like life.
We trust certain people over other people, but at the end of the day you really do just have to let go and hope that people have your best interests at heart. Some do and some don’t, but no one can ever know for sure. This is such a concentrated example of that, of these people who have each other’s lives in their hands, and they don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing. The Android is neurolly linked to the ship so that she can control it without touching buttons, she can do it internally. But how she uses that over the course of the season and the seasons to come will be seen.
TTVJ: This seems like a very physically demanding role for you, while fighting was never something that Lauren Lewis ever really got involved in on Lost Girl. How has it been to get your chance at playing a more physical role and how hard has it been to prepare for it?
ZP: At times it’s been physically demanding, it’s not like that every episode, but it is at times like that for sure. John Stead is our stunt coordinator and he’s extraordinary at what he does, and you feel really safe having him choreograph all of the fight sequences. We have amazing stunt doubles who I can’t sing their praises enough. I look good because of my stunt double, period. But it’s been great, the stunts that I do actually do myself and some of the fight sequences have been amazing, but it’s hard.
It’s really hard and it’s a different piece entirely and you have to remain in character. My character doesn’t have a relaxed posture at all, there’s no slouching, so in a fight sequence I have to remember that stuff. I can’t let go of my character and start fighting. I have to remember I’m an Android fighting, I’m not a human fighting. So that’s been a challenge character-wise, but it’s been really cool. I’ve certainly had to go home and ice myself a couple times though.
TTVJ: Lauren was a human amongst Fae on Lost Girl and now you’re an Android amongst humans on Dark Matter. What attracts you to these characters that are outside of the majority?
ZP: I don’t know, it’s been a little bit of a coincidence. I don’t know if it’s art imitating life. I don’t know if I subconsciously feel that way, I’m not sure. I’m always drawn to the underdog a little bit, I’m drawn to those characters that are a little bit outside, a little bit quirky, a little bit disconnected. I think there’s a ton of places you can go. Even on Lost Girl I think every character felt a little bit like an outsider. It was a group of outsiders. They all sort of found each other and connected in that way.
There’s a similarity on this show for that. Each of these guys, they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who each other is. They are terrified in a lot of ways and have no choice but to depend on each other. I think any good show has an element of that, it’s how audiences relate and connect. I think most human beings feel like a bit of an outsider amongst the human population.
I think it was Julia Roberts who said, ‘I always worried I’m going to wake up and they’ll figure out I don’t know what I’m doing.’ I think everyone can connect to that, this concept that one day they are all going to realize I’ve been faking it the whole time. I think everyone has that bit of fear that everyone will figure out they don’t know what they are doing. I think Dark Matter, and Lost Girl too, was able to really figure that out and portray it on the screen.
TTVJ: Other than the Android obviously, what should fans be most excited about with Dark Matter?
ZP: I think the show has so much, whoever you are, there will be something to connect with. Whether it’s the special effects, or the fight stuff, or the relationships, I think that Joe [Mallozzi] and Paul [Mullie] and have done such a fantastic job of creating really full characters and a really full story that people can really sink their teeth into. There’s a lot happening and even if you’re somebody that’s not that into sci-fi, it’s a show that I think will draw you in anyways because the characters are strong and the relationships are strong, and the need that they all have is the heartbeat of the show. The need to survive and the need to connect to somebody, something, anything. I think that will resonate with people and it’s pretty exciting.
Are you excited for Dark Matter and to check out Palmer’s take on the Android? Will you be tuning in? Check out showrunner Joseph Mallozzi’s reasons to watch and sound off with your thoughts in the comments below. Meet the rest of the Dark Matter crew here.
Dark Matter premieres Friday, June 12 at 10 p.m. ET on Space and Syfy.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.