Tonight Syfy premieres its new highly anticipated series, Dark Matter
, based on the graphic novel of the same name. The series follows the crew of a derelict spacecraft after they awaken from stasis with no memory of who they are or why they are there. While trying to figure out answers, they awaken the ship's android, played by Lost Girl
's Zoie Palmer. The crew must work together, which includes utilizing the Android's help, to find out the truth.
Palmer recently talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about her time working on the new series, and what fans can expect.
The actress may have already worked with Syfy on another series, but she still got the role of the Android by auditioning. "Of course the producers from Lost Girl
knew me, but the creators of Dark Matter
didn't. You know, like they sort of hadn't met me, or weren't overly familiar with my work. So I auditioned for those guys, and we kind of went from there. It was kind of that process.
"It's a series, so you want to make sure you've got the right person, because it's not necessarily just about whether somebody can act, so much as whether they are right for the part. I mean, Meryl Steep's one of the most brilliant actors on the planet, but she's not right for every role. So it's important, I think, for people who are creating a show, that they get the right people for the job.
"So I auditioned for them, and just sort of showed them my take on the Android and how I might approach that character."
Not being overly familiar with other well-known robots or androids, Palmer took inspiration for her character from the script and did her own thing; in fact, she didn't even read the comic prior to taking on the role. "I'm not that familiar with the TV world of robots and androids. There's, of course, Data from Star Trek
, but even that show, if I'm very honest, I didn't watch. I've never watched it, so I only know of the character; I didn't have any real sort of connection there.
"And I didn't read the comic book of Dark Matter.
Because the original character was a male, I wanted to just take it from the script and sort of see what I could do with what I might imagine an android to be, what I might imagine an android who has some kind of humanesque - well certainly look; I look human on the show - and just see how I could build that."
She revealed that science fiction isn't something she gravitates towards. "I'm not a huge science fiction fan. I mean, I have watched certain shows over the years that have been science fiction, but I'm not a science fiction buff by any stretch. I liked Torchwood
, and I liked Battlestar Galactica.
I liked those shows, but I'm not familiar with probably most [science fiction series]."
Palmer was attracted to the fact that the role was so different from Lauren on Lost Girl
or anything she had done previously. "It was so different. I mean, although it's sort of in a similar vein or genre I suppose as Lost Girl
in that it's sci-fi, other than that, they're worlds apart. They're very, very different shows. And it's a completely different character, and anything like that for me is of interest, you know, just something to kind of sink my teeth into that feels unfamiliar, feels a little bit scary. It was a bit nerve wracking at the beginning, because it's such a huge departure from what I had been playing for five years, and a huge departure from anything I've ever played. I've never played a nonhuman role really, and so it was just sort of the fact that I felt a little unsure that was appealing."
One thing that was difficult for the actress was leaving the emotions behind with the Android. "It's hard in that it's difficult to repress sort of natural instincts as an actor. As an actor, you're generally kind of trained to respond in emotional ways most of the time, unless you’re playing a character whose emotions are repressed for some reason, but typically you're responding in ways that are emotional, and this android doesn't. This android responds in ways that it's all logic; everything's logic based, and everything is sort of black and white in a lot of ways. So the struggle is there, to try to figure out how to do that and still make a character that people might want to watch, that they might have an emotional response to, even if it wasn't necessarily an emotionally driven character."
Not attaching emotions to a character can hinder learning lines in a series. "This type of language was harder than Lost Girl
, I mean, although Lauren had a lot of science based stuff, it was always interwoven with what I had in that show, which was the emotion of the scene to carry me through the words, and so it was a challenge for sure at times. There were words that were challenging and speeches that were challenging before, but the difference with this, is that the words sometimes are very kind of science based or ship based, or I'm kind of downloading information, but it's not carried through with an emotion. The emotion of a scene helped you to remember lines, and I didn't have that necessarily, so sometimes I had to access it to learn the lines and then let it go."
It wasn't just the language that was a challenge. "The whole show was challenging. I mean, I did Lost Girl
for five years, and you get really comfortable. You get comfortable with the storyline; you get comfortable with the character. This was brand new in every way, just playing this character. I'm playing it on a spaceship, and figuring out how to work the spaceship and how to completely build a character from nowhere, was a huge challenge, but for that same reason, also a huge joy for me to get to do that. It was a bit terrifying at times, but there was nothing that wasn't challenging for the first while. And by the last few episodes, I felt more comfortable with what was going on, but it did take a while; it was a really big change...It was all a challenge."
Playing the Android, the actress took part in multiple fight scenes this season. "It was great. I mean, I have done a few fight scenes over my career. John Stead, who is the stunt coordinator on the show, is such an extraordinary guy and so incredibly good at his job, that you feel very safe working with him and confident that he's going to be able to make the scene look spectacular, which I think he does in spades.
"But it's a different thing all together. Stunt choreography is much like dance, in that everything is really mapped out and you need to know the dance, you need to know when this guy comes at you, you have got to do these set of moves, and then somebody else is coming at you, and you have to do those set of moves. And it's all choreographed down to a "T," so, you know, you remember that in the same way you do lines to some degree."
The physical set of the ship is so beautiful and amazing that Palmer couldn't just pick a favorite part. "You know, it's just so esthetically magnificent. They've done such an extraordinary job of making it feel like you really are flying through space. There's not really one room that I could [choose], I mean, they're all pretty spectacular. It would be great for people to get to do a little tour of the set, because it's pretty cool.
"The very first time we all went in, we all had the same response. It's just really magnificent, the job that they've done. And it's such a big help, because you're doing something that's so out there. If you're doing a scene in an office, and you're in an office, then it's not that a big stretch, but we're doing scenes where we're flying through space. Crazy stuff is happening, and we're having fights in outer space, and we're flying around, and sometimes the ship is moving, and they've done the best job they could possibly do to make our job as easy as possible in that sort of extreme scenario."
Spending so much time playing Lauren on Lost Girl
, the actress knows that the role has helped her on Dark Matter
, but more on a broader sense than in specific ways. "Probably everything I've ever done has been somehow applied to this role, which I think happens. As an actor, you kind of pick up things all the time. I don't know what specifically, like Lauren and the Android are very different; there's really very little in similarity between the two of them, so I wouldn't say there's much character based stuff that I applied. But just in a general way, when you kind work on a show for so long, I can't imagine it hasn't influenced the way I've play this part to some degree."
Palmer very much enjoyed the comedic element to her character. "Anytime I get to do anything that's kind of comedic, I really love it. It's certainly a passion of mine. I love comedy. I love it in life, and I love it in work, and any time I got to do that on Lost Girl
it was a treat. And especially for this character, because the Android is so kind of fact based and theory based, and then every now and then I would kind of get to be a little bit quirkier, a little bit kind of out there, and it was a lot of fun."
Due to spoilers, understandably the actress couldn't reveal much about her favorite scene, but there were a lot that she liked and is excited for people to see. "There're lots of great scenes that I think will be a lot of fun. It's difficult to kind of talk about them at this point, because anything I say right now is so spoiler."
She did mention a fun scene in the episode directed by Stargate
alum Amanda Tapping, as well as talk about working with her and originally meeting her. "[I worked with her] very briefly. I wasn't in her episode a ton, but there's the scene in that episode actually that I think was kind of fun, with Four (Alex Mallari Jr.)'s character.
"Amanda Tapping is brilliant. I was thrilled to get to work with her. I bumped into her one time at a Comic-Con some years ago, and I did a show in Vancouver, and she's Vancouver based - she was anyway, I think she still is - so she knows a lot of the actor friends that I know, so we have all these people in common. And she's amazing. I mean, she's fun and friendly and smart - such a fantastic director. It was a complete pleasure to work with her; she's awesome."
The actress will be attending a few conventions soon. “I have a con in July [in England] coming up and I'm hoping to go to Dragon Con this year in September. Dragon Con and Toronto Fan Expo are on the same weekend so I can't do both, but I have a couple lined up."
It is possible that Dark Matter
could continue on for more than one season; it wasn't created as a limited run series, but one never knows. "The problem with series is you never know. You often have to keep in mind that it could be the end. I don't think the intention is for it to be. I think the idea is this is a story that could continue. Certainly the premise could go on forever, like the concept is one that easily could keep going, and it just depends how it all goes."
Palmer thinks there is something for everything in Dark Matter
. "I think it's going to be a really cool show, and I think that watching anything play out in space with these crazy guys, there's kind of a character for everybody. They're so different, each one of them, one through six. It's like there's not one character that's similar to the next, so I think there's something for everybody in this show, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun."