Cast of FlashForward Talks the Future of the Series
"FlashForward, which was one of the most popular new shows of this past TV season returned on March 18th for the second half of their debut year. The series, which began by showing us the six-month future of its lead characters, is getting frighteningly close to that half year mark and fans are starting to see some results. In the first few episodes back we've already learned the identity of Suspect Zero, that both Simon and Lloyd knew more about the FlashForward than they were telling us and that there will be another blackout. So its safe to say that things are only starting to heat up on the mythology heavy show and that fans of the series won't want to miss any episodes leading up to the season one finale of the series in May. We recently had an opportunity to stop by the set of the ABC series at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA to speak with the cast, which included Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Dominic Monaghan, Jack Davenport, Sonya Walger, Christine Woods and Courtney B. Vance. They discussed the remainder of the first season; the future of the show and which mysteries will be revealed and what new ones will soon be introduced.
On arrival to the Disney Studios in Burbank, where they shoot the series, we were escorted to the FBI headquarters set that is central to the show, where we met and interviewed members of the cast. First up, we spoke to actor Joseph Fiennes, whose wife had just had baby days earlier, and had returned to the set to speak with us. We began by asking the actor what fans could expect from his character, FBI Agent Mark Benford, in the remainder of the season? "Well, the first several (episodes) have been setting things up," said the actor. "Like anything, one has to go through that development process of introducing people and lives. The first several episodes have done that, and now it's all about locking the cards down and having fun with seeing how the second half plays out. What's really important is that we get to some kind of understanding and closure of the visions and the future. Over and above who and what's behind it, what's really important is to see how people are affected by their visions. Is it a gift, or is it a curse to see into the future? That's the important element. We get into that area of closure, on those visions," concluded the actor.
Fiennes' character is dealing with shocking knowledge that he discovered during the flashforward including the fact that in 6 months his wife will be sleeping with someone else and the actor spoke about the challenges affecting his character. "There are two elements to Mark," he explained. "He's a family guy and he has absolute, undying love for his daughter and his wife. That's, essentially, the backbone of Mark. He's also like these guys that wear these badges, whether it's fireman or FBI guys. There's something sacrificial and very heroic about what they do. With Mark ... attached to that is this addiction gene. A lot of Mosaic has become an addiction for him, in place of his need to drink. But, we'll see Mark have to make certain sacrifices. We'll see Mark take on ridiculous amounts of pressure to see whether he will actually pick up a bottle." Another thing Mark is dealing with is the knowledge that he will shoot and possibly kill his partner Demetri (John Cho) and here is what the actor had to say about that. "There's that relationship between trust and how Mark can pull the trigger on his partner, and we get to examine that and the frailties that surround that. Is he bad? Am I bad? Why would I should him? So, all those questions come up."
As previously mentioned, John Cho's character, FBI Special Agent Demetri Noh, is dealing with the fact that he did not see a flashforward, just blackness leaving him to believe that he will be dead in six months. We asked Cho if he knows the future of his character. "Yes, I do know whether Demetri dies or does not die on that date, at this point," said the actor. "The approach, at this point, is the same. You just get the script and deal with it." With the knowledge that his own partner is the man that shoots him, Cho explains the strained relationship between his and Joseph Fiennes's characters. "Demetri's relationship with Mark is very strained and very interesting. I will say that our partnership gets put to the test. It's fascinating and, Demetri's relationship with Janis (Christina Woods) gets very interesting. There's some stuff there. Also Demetri's relationship with Vogel (Michael Ealy), a new character gets interesting." Now that Dominic Monaghan's character Dr. Simon Campos is working with the FBI and some secrets about the character have been discovered Cho talked about his characters concerns with Monaghan's Campos. "As a person who, like the other billions of people on Earth, has suffered from the black-out there's a deep level of suspicion there. But we have to use him and employ him in the FBI to try to solve what's going on so it's a very strained relationship. There's a mole so we're trying to figure out who that is. There is a lot of looking over our collective backs," concluded Cho.
Speaking of Dominic Monaghan, we spoke to the actor about his role as Dr. Campos, who was recently discovered to be Suspect Zero and have a much larger role in the blackouts than was previously known, if he thinks of his character as the show's villain? "Well, that's all a point of view. Who are the good guys and bad guys, in any aspect? You can argue that the Joker is the bad guy from the Batman mythology, but not from the Joker's point of view," explained Monaghan. "The Joker would think that Batman is just fucking up his life and trying to do what he wants to do. That's all a point of view. When I came into the project, it was key for me that I wanted to play someone who had bad elements to his personality. The more interesting characters for me are always a little more than two-dimensional. If you're just playing bad notes all the time, the audience is going to get bored of you. So, even though Simon's motivation seems to be one of being a bad guy, I'm always trying to play against type. If I'm playing a good guy, I try to make him a little bad. If I'm playing a bad guy, I try to make him a little good. That's my challenge." The actor went onto discus where he hopes his character goes in the future of the series. "I just want him to remain authentic and dark. I like his one-track mind. I like the fact that he's not interested in what other people's agendas are. He's just trying to take care of himself. I'd like to see a lot more of his physicality come through cause he's fast, he's strong, he's spry, he's clever and he can fight smart. Really, I'm just having fun."
Jack Davenport, the actor who plays Simon's scientific partner and future lover of Mark's wife Olivia, Dr. Lloyd Simcoe, talked about the recent revelation that he had more contact with Mark during the blackout then he first admitted. "Ironically enough, that will end up throwing me much more closely in the direction of Mark, which might be uncomfortable for both of us, as you could imagine. Lloyd essentially has answers that can help explain a lot of thing and also just by the virtue of his appearance in Olivia's FlashForward, we need to know what happens with that. So on two fronts, there's quite a lot that will be revealed, some shortly and some not so shortly." Now that some pretty big truths about Simon have been revealed, we asked Davenport if that has changed the relationship between fellow colleagues Simcoe and Campos? "It's defined by a general spikiness. We're long-time work colleagues in the show. Even though my wife finds it vaguely hilarious that I'm playing one of the five cleverest people in the world, I find it equally hilarious that Dominic is playing one of the five cleverest people in the world. Obviously, two super-brains are better than one super-brain, in terms of helping to unravel the mystery of how this happened."
Actress Sonya Walger plays Dr. Olivia Benford, Mark's wife who's FlashForward featured her in bed with Dr. Simcoe, and she explained the affect that knowledge has had on her marriage. "It comes under increasing stress. I joined the FBI investigation to help them find Lloyd. As much I take all these steps to avoid my FlashForward, Lloyd just keeps cropping up and Mark really starts disappearing down the rabbit hole of his investigation so their marriage is under huge pressure. So the shift that happens in the second half of the season is that you start to see that Olivia might really want her FlashForward to come true, which is a real change." The actress talked further about her characters complicated marriage and relationship with Simcoe. "This love triangle, which was such a big part of the pilot, and one of the many reasons people were really interested and wanted to watch and get involved with it, gets really intense," PEFuwJGLfTCpJL||Walger} explained. "Watching this marriage come under this pressure and strain is pretty huge and then, on top of that, Olivia meets this strange guy who knows an awful lot about Olivia's future. It turns out he has had multiple flash-forwards, and he becomes a big key to, not only to Olivia's destiny, but the unfolding of the whole investigation. So, it's fun because I have a ton to do in the second half of this season. I'm not just at the hospital. I'm with the FBI, helping them solve stuff. I'm fighting it out with Mark. I meet this strange guy, who's got all this information and we don't know where he's got it from, so it's fun. I've got great, juicy storylines."
Actress Christine Woods plays Special Agent Janis Hawk with the FBI and discussed the challenges of keeping all the ever-changing details about her character straight on a complicated show like this. "It's definitely a challenge. You definitely need to write yourself a lot of Post-It Notes, and really do some extremely intense preparation work. We also shoot out of sequence so these big moments happen before, as an actor, you've been able to lead up to them emotionally. It's not easy, so it's not boring. You just really have to keep track and that's such a joy as an actor, to really have to dive in." She talked further about making the character different than the average cliché FBI Agent. "Well, originally Janis was supposed to just be the nerd pushing the buttons, but as time went on we wanted to see her more in the field. So luckily I think that she's kind of changed into someone who is more active." When asked how much the actors are told about the future of their characters, the actress had only this to say. "We know kind of the big picture, but we don't really know the details."
Veteran actor Courtney B. Vance who plays FBI Assistant Director Stanford Wedeck had this to say about the complicated plot details that his character is often left to explain. "If it doesn't make sense to me, it's not going to make sense to (the audience). So if it doesn't make sense, I wont say that." Finally, Fiennes, who before the series was known primarily for his theater and film work discussed joining the show and how he is enjoying working on series television? "It's intense. I've done a bit of theater with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the West End and, as an actor's medium, I thought that was pretty demanding but doing eight shows a week for six months is relentless. But I have to say that a TV schedule sorts the men from the boys. It really does and we do two episodes at once. You have to be on your game. But I love it and I love the idea that, unlike film, television doesn't fall into that generic, structure of acts. It changes shape. It's got great freedoms. It is a writer's medium. The chemistry lies there. It's amazing to see them constantly morph and question. I think the latter half of this season has really come through with a voice," the actor finished.
FlashForward airs Thursday nights on ABC.