• INTERVIEW: Friday, 1/12 - 4:00pm ET - Shoot the Messenger - Lucas Bryant
  • INTERVIEW: Wednesday, 1/17 - 2:00pm ET - Siren - Ian Verdun
  • INTERVIEW: Tuesday, 1/23 - 6:15pm ET - Bellevue - Shawn Doyle
  • INTERVIEW: Monday, 2/05 - 12:00pm ET - Bellevue - Adrienne Mitchell
  • INTERVIEW: Friday, 2/16 - 3:15pm ET - Shoot the Messenger - Elyse Levesque
  • CONFERENCE: Thursday, 3/01 - 3:00pm ET - Showtime at the Apollo - Steve Harvey

Exclusive: Aaron Stanford Talks Season Two of 12 Monkeys

Aaron StanfordTonight Syfy airs the sixth episode of season two of 12 Monkeys, "Immortal." In the episode Cole, played by Aaron Stanford, and Ramses (Kirk Acevedo) travel to 1975 to try to save the next primary, Kyle Slade (David Dastmalchian) from the Twelve, but he may not warrant saving.

Stanford recently sat down with Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview and talked about his work on the series this season and teased a bit about what's coming next.

SCIFI VISION: I talked to you earlier in the season about how the series is much different this season, focusing more on fixing time than stopping the virus and how that affected Cole. How early did you know about such a big change?

Aaron StanfordAARON STANFORD: Terry [Matalas] had dropped that on us indirectly fairly early on. He was hacking that grand master plan I think midway or towards the end of season one. I think it was coming to complete formation in his mind. He just started dropping hints to all of us like 'this is only the beginning' and 'wait until you see where it's going next season,' but he withheld crucial details.

And then after we had finished and when we were ramping up to go into season two, that's when he sort of really filled everybody in on like what the idea was, what the new stakes were, and this whole completely original idea of time as somehow being alive, somehow being like a sentient being.

And I was fascinated by that, because I think with time travel shows in general, there are so many kind of standbys and tropes that you almost have to hit if you want to do it correctly. Like you have to do these specific linchpins of time travel, but this was the first time I had heard of that idea of this symbiotic relationship with these very specific humans, who were pillars holding up the structures of time. I thought it was a really cool idea.

I know you can't tell me specifics, but do you already have an idea from him where the show is going next year? Is it going to be such a big change again?

He's really cagey about that stuff. I think part of it is he enjoys watching us discover things as we read new scripts. He likes to introduce things to the actors piece by piece, so he has teased a couple of things to me about where Cole specifically is going in season three, but unfortunately anything that I tell you would be a complete spoiler.

I can only say that I'm very excited to do it, and it's brave new territory for Cole. He's going to be in waters he's never been in before.

Throughout both seasons, what was the thing that happened to Cole that surprised you most?

I'm trying to think if there's any one thing. I mean, it's just been such an interesting journey in general, sort of watching his story unfold as I read the scripts. I'm trying to think if there's been one standout moment.

I really loved his background with the West VII and the very, very dark place he went to when he was with them and sort of became the worst version of himself. I really enjoyed shooting those flashbacks, kind of exploring the bizarro Cole. I think that's probably been my favorite up until this point.

Aaron StanfordThe way Cole is thinking of things has kind of shifted in season two. Last year he thought all he had to do was kill someone, and nothing he did really mattered, because it would all reset, and he would disappear. But this year, he finds out that by saving Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire), it actually made a bigger impact. So now he kind of has this new outlook. Can you talk about that and how that shifted the way he works. Also, is it going to continue to to cause Cole and Cassie (Amanda Schull) to butt heads? Is she going to come around?

Well, that's the journey, you know? Cole has gained some wisdom. That's what's different about him this year; that's what changed about him. In the first season he was very single minded and impulsive, and he really had tunnel vision. He didn't really want to think about things very much. He was a soldier on a mission, and that mission was to assassinate one specific person. That was all he wanted to do, and then once that was done he would get what he wanted. He would have done something to redeem himself, to save the world, and to reset himself.

And over the course of the season, through experiences that he had in our time, through his relationship with Cassie, who is able to communicate to him that human life has a value and that there's something sacred about each and every human life that has to be respected, he took that in. And he also took in that the people who were meant to be in charge might not really know what they're doing. And he took in the fact that really it might be a much much larger picture and not just this simple problem to solve of stopping one virus from being released. And he's right about all those things.

So this season he has a lot more equanimity. He wants to consider the repercussions of everything before he does them.

Cassie on the other hand has gone in the opposite direction. She's become much more impulsive and single minded. She's had some kind of short term extreme trauma when she jumped to the future. And coming from the world she comes from, and being the person she is, that limited little piece of the apocalypse that she sees even from behind the protected walls of the compound, it just has this effect on her, and she essentially just panics and just becomes like the angel of death. 'We have to kill anybody that needs to be killed to stop this thing.'

Aaron StanfordSo the two of them kind of have to find their way back to a middle ground. And I don't want to say whether or not that will happen, because that's a spoiler, but you know I think most of us kind of see where this is going.

This season Cole had that great fight with Deacon (Todd Stashwick), which I had talked to him about, and he said you both really went at it. Can you talk about that and some of the other more difficult stunts you've done?

That's a really fun part of the show for me. I love doing fight choreography and action sequences. I really, really dig it. I haven't had that much chance to do it in the past. I'm had some roles where I get a little bit of it here or there, but this is the most physical role I've ever had.

I just like it; it's fun. It's like sports. You come in, and you have to learn to work very fast paced, and you have to learn these fights very quickly and shoot them very quickly. You get better at it the more that you do.

A scene like the Deacon/Cole fight scene, you know, we have a great stunt team and great fight choreographers. We come in, and they show us how badly we're going to kick each other's asses. And we watch it, and then we give our own input on, you know, 'I think I would prefer to do this counter move,' as opposed to 'if we're on the ground, I'd like to punch him in the neck if I could, please.' [laughs] And then we figure out a way to do that. So for me I really enjoy it.

There're some great practical effects in next week's episode, and of course the CGI's always fantastic as well. Can you talk about working with both digital and practical effects?

Aaron StanfordI'm team practical all the way. I think that the industry in general has come to lean on CGI far too much. I think there is definitely a place for it and things that we were able to achieve in the show that we could not have without the CGI, like the Red Forrest, those really ominous powerful electrical storms, and most notably that sequence where Jennifer Goines walks Jones (Barbara Sukowa) through her own mind, basically, and her own experience. It's almost like her version of the TV special Cosmos [laughs], where she like takes her own a journey through her cosmos. So that stuff is really, really cool.

But in the show, and also just in general, there's something about practical effects. There's a texture and a weight to it that it just can't quite be replicated. You know, CGI Yoda is never going to be as good as puppet Yoda; it's never going to happen. So anytime you can get the practical in there, I love it, and that's just from an audience prospective.

From an actor's perspective, obviously, anything that's there on the day that can help you know how to react, where to pitch your performance, that stuff is crucial. You see a lot of green screen performances where you can just tell that the actor's completely disconnected from what's happening, because he had no idea what was happening. It's just this cartoon sort of happening all around him. So I'm a big fan of practical wherever and whenever you can fit it in.

The show has great effects, either way.

It does; they're both great. And like I said, I definitely feel like there are things that you can achieve with that that you couldn't with anything else, but sometimes you should stick by tradition - the old standbys.

Last week Cassie saw the Witness and sees Aaron (Noah Bean). Tonight we learn even more. Is there anything you can tease moving forward about the Witness?

Aaron Stanford
There're a lot of theories out there about who the witness is. That is the intended effect. They want people out there desperately trying to solve this puzzle. Everyone's got their own theories. So all I can say, is that you will not be disappointed in the reveal. It's one of the best episodes we have, if not the best. This is a great season altogether. I've really enjoyed the second season, but the episodes towards the end are really just absolute knockouts, and people are going to enjoy it.

**UPDATE: Be sure to read part two of this interview!****

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