12 Monkey, Showcases’ new series inspired by the classic ‘90s Brad Pitt/Bruce Willis flick, will make its debut this Friday, January 16 at 10 p.m. The Toronto-shot series (which airs in the U.S. on Syfy) explores the story of a time traveller from a decimated future (the year 2043) to the present day on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will annihilate the human race.
The series stars Aaron Stanford (Nikita, X-Men: The Last Stand), Amanda Schull (Suits, Pretty Little Liars), Kirk Acevedo (The Walking Dead, Fringe), Noah Bean (Nikita, Damages) and Emily Hampshire (who is also starring on CBC’s Schitt’s Creek).
We had a chance to chat with Amanda Schull who plays the virologist, Cassandra, that Aaron Stanford’s Cole travels back in time to warn about the upcoming pandemic. Schull talks to us about the similarities and contrasts between the film and television adaptation, the eerie parallels between the show and reality and which television series from the past she’d like to star on (if she could travel back in time)!
How familiar were you with the 1995 film when you auditioned for this role?
I had seen the film when I was younger, but I made the decision not to re-watch it before auditioning because I didn’t want my performance to be influenced by the original. After we filmed the pilot I watched the film again and was reminded of many little similarities and tributes we have in our series.
Was it a lot more comforting signing on to an adaptation when the same producers of the film are involved?
Absolutely. We know that we have their blessing with the choices we make, which is very encouraging.
A few elements between the film and pilot have changed, what were some of the biggest contrasts between this television version and the 1996 movie?
I think some of the biggest contrasts are the characters that have been written for the series. I think Dr. Railly in the film (played by Revenge’s Madeleine Stowe) is very different person from the one we are presenting in the series. This is for a number of reasons, one of which being that we are able to indulge in longer character arcs and stories than those afforded by a two-hour film.
People who haven’t seen the film won’t be confused or left out in any way, but those who have will find all sorts of nods throughout the series.
Cassandra is a virologist whose reputation gets put on the line when she speaks out about the time traveller (Cole) who visited her. You’d think she would keep something like that quiet and not tell everyone, right? She ends up losing her stature in the medical community between 2013 and 2015.
Cassie is incredibly intelligent. She trusts what she knows and what she saw. I don’t think she told “everyone” about the visit from a time traveller. I think that she probably told a handful of people because it was both shocking and upsetting to her. I don’t think that her reputation would be her first concern if the fate of the word were actually dependent on her actions, as Cole told her.
The show deals with biological warfare. An outbreak story is very topical right now due to the recent Ebola outbreak. Was there a moment during filming where you realized that while this is a science fiction story, it could actually happen one day in reality?
The parallels of the storyline of the series and the reality in which we live were never lost on any of us. From the very first read of the script, I could see how this type of pandemic could wreak havoc on a city, a country, even the world as we know it.
Will most of the episodes primarily be set in 2015 (with Cole coming back) or 2043? Could Cassie travel to the future?
Every episode takes place in more than one time period. As an audience member, I think that having the juxtaposition of the two times allows for the dichotomy and urgency of Cole’s mission to really be obvious.
A twist to the time travel question which I’m sure you’ll be getting a lot… If you could travel to a different time period, as an actress, what television series from the past would you want to star or guest star on?
The cast of Friends seemed to have a lot of fun, and it translated to their performances. They had great material, wonderful chemistry, and got to present all of that in front of the energy of a live audience. That sounds like a pretty good gig to me!
Will we be seeing Katrina again when Suits returns for the second half of its fourth season? When we last saw your character, she had quit the firm.
We shall see…
12 Monkeys premieres Friday, January 16 at 10p.m. on Showcase.