Almost Human Interview

Star Michael Ealy talks Almost Human, ex-Fringe showrunner JH Wyman’s new android/human cop show.

He was human. His partner was an android. They were both cops. When they got together it was…

Michael Ealy is best known to sci-fi/fantasy fans for his roles in FlashForward and Underworld: Awakening. But the actor’s next project might just make him a genre TV superstar – Ealy portrays Dorian, the synthetic cop partnered with Karl Urban’s taciturn human plod John Kennex in JJ Abrams and JH “Fringe”Wyman’s Almost Human. We caught up with Ealy and he told us what to expect when the futuristic thriller premieres this autumn.

What drew you to Almost Human?
I had a meeting with Joel [Wyman]. At first I was worried about playing a synthetic, a droid. Because I had never done that before, and was thinking about, “Well, where does this droid go? Can he have a love interest? Can he have sex?” Those kinds of things. You start thinking, “What is there left to do?” Especially over five or six years. What’s he gonna do? It was sitting down with Joel and understanding – from the design to when he was in existence, and how his model was terminated. Then to see him come back and how his character views it as a second chance… But there was a challenge. I didn’t want to do what other actors have done. I don’t want to say certain names, but I wanted to avoid certain clichés as a droid.

So you didn’t find inspiration in things like Blade Runner or Battlestar Galactica?
I looked at Blade Runner, and definitely was inspired. But Dorian to me was Jason Bourne and Robert Patrick in Terminator 2. I tried to mix those two together, and just an ounce of Jeff Bridges in Starman. Just an ounce. Those are the three characters [with which] I tried to make Dorian work. So it was quite the challenge needless to say. Obviously acting opposite Karl was when I really started to discover Dorian, because he’s almost human as well [laughs].

What do you think will excite science fiction fans the most about the show?
There’s definitely some mythology that will attract the sci-fi fans. There’s plenty of action that will just thrill the adrenaline junkies. Dorian to me represents the humanity that we all take for granted. The action will be great, the sci-fi will be great. But you’ll actually find a connection. You’ll find it strange that you’re connecting with a machine. It will actually broaden the audience – this question of “What is almost human?”

Have you and Joel spoken about how season one will fit into a larger picture?
Oh yeah.  Joel and JJ, they’re like, “Listen, every season I’m gonna tell you exactly where you’re gonna go. We’ve got it. Trust me – we’ve got it.” Then when they start breaking down the background for Dorian, it was so compelling it was like, “Yeah, let’s make it happen.”

Now I’m excited about Comic-Con. Because I went for Underworld, and I saw the madness that goes on at Comic-Con. It feels weird, because we don’t even have a following yet for the show. It works on paper. We just got to sustain it from week to week. So I look forward to Comic-Con 2014, when we’ve gotten that first season and people come dressed as Dorian [laughs].

What’s it like working with Joel Wyman?
Joel gives a lot. You can call Joel at two in the morning. He’s up, and he’ll tell you whatever you want to know. He is very, very forthright. Often times a conversation with Joel will last an hour. Easy. Our first meeting was like three and a half hours. I had my wife in the car. I thought it was gonna be 20 minutes! And it was on Valentine’s Day, man! I’m not joking. I got my wife in the car. I’m thinking the meeting is gonna be maybe 20 minutes – “Yeah, alright. Listen, dude, let’s do it. It’ll be great.” Literally two-and-a-half hours in I’m like, “Okay, but is he more like a Mac or a PC?” It felt like we were rehearsing at that first meeting. We just got to a point where we started collaborating on this guy. When I walked out of there, I got back in the car and the first thing I did was apologise profusely. I was like, “I think I’m gonna get this… And I think I’m gonna love it. Wow, if I can work with this guy…”

We have such a good cast. It was interesting when they cast Lili Taylor. Everybody was like, “We’re going in a totally different direction.” You think of that character, Captain Maldonado, you’re thinking Angie Harmon – a tough woman, a tough broad. They went with Lili Taylor, and Lili’s amazing! The things that she’s gonna do…

We still don’t know who’s who. That’s the thing – we really don’t know who’s who. And this thing is gonna get bigger and bigger. So yeah, I’m excited.

Almost Human will air on Fox in the US this autumn. A UK broadcaster is yet to be confirmed.